Five years on

I write this almost to the second that the first plane hit the North Tower over my left shoulder that fateful morning five years ago. As most of you know, I was then sitting at my desk on the 16th floor of 100 Church Street, with the post office building at 90 Church Street just below my window and the World Trade Center complex right past that. At that time, of course, I heard a sonic boom, a large pop, and an explosion, sat perplexed a second, and then looked over to see flames shooting out, and glass and paper falling from the World Trade Center. The rest… well, you all know the rest.
I wanted to be all clever and snarky, perhaps posting pictures like this… But at this point, after five years of watching the hoopla and opportunism… I see no point in that kind of further reflection.
So instead, let me take a moment, as I have done in the past, to honor a unique hero of 9-11, the late Richie Pearlman. Richard Allen Pearlman joined the hundreds of dead rescuers and first responders, including heroic firefighters (including my late legal client, Carl Molinaro), heroic police officers and heroic EMTs who gave their lives trying to help others that morning.
But Richie wasn’t being paid to be a hero.
I first heard of Richie at a Boy Scout luncheon in Queens, where his mother received a posthumously presented award from the scouts. On the morning of September 11, 2001, 18-year old Richie had a messenger job which brought him downtown to police headquarters; he heard about the attacks on the WTC, whipped out his EMT identification… and ran to the scene, where he could help. Richie was a trainied medical technician with a volunteer ambulance company in Forest Hills, and he was (literally) an Eagle Scout.
And he selflessly offered his assistance at the WTC, to help whoever he could. It’s a cliche to say that Richie stood for the highest values of scouting, or even of being an American. Richie’s medical work was a labor of love; Richie died in pursuit of his labor of love, trying to help others… not merely New York’s finest hour, but humanity’s.
R.I.P. Richard Pearlman.