More than 200 years ago, a newly inaugurated George Washington kneeled at St. Paul’s Chapel to give thanks to God. On Thursday, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani visited St. Paul’s to give thanks to New York, and to say goodbye to the office that was his for eight years. The Mayor’s political associates, leaders of Trinity Church, the mother church of St. Paul’s, and members of the press filled the wooden pews of this American-ancient, built in 1766.
The mayor spoke of the chapel’s “thrice-hallowed ground” -- a “house of God,” the site of Washington’s prayer, and September 11 survivor: The church was spared even a broken window during the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, despite it’s proximity to ground zero.
Since the attacks, St. Paul’s has operated a 24-hour relief ministry, providing food, quiet, and pastoral counseling to weary rescue workers.
The mayor spent much of his address trumpeting his administration’s triumphs, especially in lowering New York City’s crime rate. Then he focused on the future, saying “I’m a big optimist.”
He said that the city must “find the most creative minds,” to build a “soaring, beautiful memorial that draws people” to Lower Manhattan, and that the site should be memorialized as some of the world’s “great battlefields” have.
“If we do that part right,” he said, “the economic development will just happen.”
Giuliani the Survivor
Toward the end of his speech, he paired names of close associates with phrases like “She got us out,” and “We survived.” Like the priests and brokers of Lower Manhattan who fled to safety on September 11 and then returned to work, Giuliani was every bit the survivor, having shared the prevailing experience of the day, emerging from an office building dusty after the towers fell.
Because he survived, he said, the city’s leadership must ensure two things: First, that families of the dead are financially protected. Second, that the site “must be sanctified.”
“I was impressed by a man standing tall today,” said the Rev. Stuart Hoke, executive assistant to the rector of Trinity Church, “as I have been impressed in these last few months by a city standing tall.”
Posted on Trinity News December 27, 2001