A Letter to Francesco Garfi - Hero:
Looking at your name, and the names of all the ones lost with you, brought into the sharpest possible focus the fact that you were a real, living person, with loved ones like your brother Vito, your dad, and all the rest of your family. You were only 29, younger than my own children, and just beginning a "dream career" with Cantor Fitzgerald.
Oh, my; so many of you left us that terrible day. It just doesn’t seem possible that it’s been five years; it is as vivid and heart-wrenching today as it was then. Just as we all do, I remember the very moment it happened.
There's no way for you to know it, but the entire nation and much of the world mourned your passing. You and all those other innocents left us in a manner, and for a reason, that is almost impossible for any rational mind to grasp. What we can grasp, though, is how wrong, how morally obscene, it was for those who plotted your death to do what they did.
Maybe in a dull sort of way, it would please you and Vito and the rest of your family, along with Marty and all of your friends, to know that the tragedy of your passing is remembered by millions who never even met you, and that it shocked and deeply saddened complete strangers.
Maybe, too, in a dull sort of way, it would please you to know that your death didn’t simply leave people shocked and saddened, but that it also left us with something precious - a silver lining of sorts. Even though that silver lining can never shine brightly because of the circumstances under which you left, it is of immense value.
I must admit, at first glance, your loss looked like a terrible sacrifice. That’s because the true meaning of “sacrifice” is the giving up of something of greater value for something of lesser value.
But now, after having had five years to think, we see things more clearly than we did that horrible day. We've had time to think, to read, to listen, to learn, to analyze and to get things straight in our minds. So now I think we can say that when you left us, you left us almost in triumph, knowing that you had left us with something of great value, and not as a sacrifice on the alter of irrationality.
What we, the living, gained when you died was a warning lesson that may well save the lives of millions of us who, like you, are innocent of any wrongdoing, but who are threatened by the same thing that took you. I do mean millions; your brother, your dad, the rest of your family, your friends, and all the rest of us.
Most people on this earth, no matter where they are, understand that life is our most precious value, and we try to do whatever we can to make life better, and to help preserve and protect it. I'm very sure that you thought that the lives of your loved ones, your friends, and life in general is a wonderful and valuable thing, and that you would have done everything you could to preserve and protect them.
You might wonder how, but I think that's exactly what you did that day.
I know that the people who planned your death didn’t hold life as a value, because they were seen on video, for the entire world to see, openly saying that they didn't love life. At least one of the men who said that helped plan your death. That – the fact that they didn’t value life - was the biggest difference between you and them.
When that plane headed for the White House and crashed in Pennsylvania, and another one flew into the Pentagon, and the planes hit the Twin Towers, taking you with them, we learned that it was just the beginning, and that we were targets too.
The valuable gift you have given us is a lesson. They want to do to us what they did to you, but by teaching us that, you have given us time to prepare, and for that, we shall remain grateful forever – for ourselves, for our children, and for our children's children.
That's why I think you weren’t a simple sacrifice on the altar of the insane goals of a life-hating ideology; you saved the lives of your loved ones and, in fact, the lives of all of us who survive you.
We will succeed, Frank, thanks to you all the others. You will never be forgotten; your lesson of warning burns brightly in our hearts and minds. One day in the not-too-distant future, humankind will look back on what happened to you, and realize the incredible benefit to mankind that your warning bestowed upon us.
All over the world, our kind creates monuments when we feel a profound need to see, right in front of us, a value that would otherwise be invisible. “Justice” is an example of what I mean; justice is a very great and very real value, but you can’t actually see it. That’s why we make a statue of a blindfolded lady holding a balance; we all know what it means, just as we know what the word “justice” itself means. There was another example of how art can make values come alive for us, and maybe you could see from your office in the Twin Towers. It was a statue of another lady, lighting the path to liberty by holding a flaming torch aloft.
A wonderful monument is planned for you, too. It will be right there, on the spot where you died. Did you know that the place is regarded as sacred ground?
What should the design of the monument to your memory and the memory of all the others be like? The manner of your passing was so incredible, and for reasons that were so incomprehensible, that it has taken a long time decide, but it won’t be too much longer before there will be a monument to portray the HUGE value of your life.
I’m confident that when it is completed, you would approve. I hope your family and friends like it, and think that it reflects something of you. The plans include having your name and picture there. I hope so, because I’d really like to see it. Some of your friends have said you were handsome, full of life, that you had a tremendous sense of humor, and that you were a pleasure to be around.
You were a fine example of our greatest value – life.
You are a hero, Frank – you and all 2996 of you. Thanks to you, we will live to carry on. So will you, through the family you left behind, and their children and their children after them.
With all my gratitude,