When I signed up for the 2996 tribute, I don’t think I knew what I was getting into. It seemed at the time (and still does) to be a great tribute to those who died in 9/11. I remember getting Donna’s name, reading the tributes which already dot the web, and a sudden fear gripped me– how can I possibly give a tribute to someone I never knew– someone so anonymous to me?
Believe it or not, I got a little help from Ward Churchill.
You see, Ward Churchill, professor of ethnic studies at University of Colorado- Boulder, wrote in his essay “Some People Push Back” that the people in the Twin Towers on 9/11 were “Little Eichmanns”. My initial response to his essay was revulsion– how could someone possibly say that?
Then this tribute came along. By now my emotions had simmered from Churchill’s tired rants, and Donna is a perfect example of just how wrong he was.
From what I have read about Donna, I can tell what an influence she was on those around her. She sounded firm, but it was evident that she was also caring. According to this tribute site, Donna’s sister says:
Donna was not only my sister but my friend and co-worker. She was person who was caring, loving and full of life. There are no words to describe how much I miss her. Donna and I worked together at Aon Risk Services. I am a survivor of the world trade center walking down 92 flights of stairs. My life has been spared by two men who helped me but Donna is gone. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.
On another site, it is written:
Giordano served as president of the complex’s homeowners’ association, a go-to role well-suited for her practical, easygoing nature. “Someone would come up with a problem” every time she walked her dog, Charlie, a Shetland sheepdog upon whom she doted, Barrett said. Giordano handled each person with her trademark mix of firmness and finesse. “She was assertive, but also very kind,” her sister said.
(Growing up, we had a Shetland as well. They are truly caring dogs who watch out for others. Ours saved my life on one occasion. Seems like an ideal fit between Donna and her dog.)
According to this site, Donna cared about family, so much so that the kept them close and in a good job:
Ms. Giordano, 44 and divorced, liked having her family nearby. An insurance syndicator for the Aon Corporation in 2 World Trade Center, she had gotten jobs for her son and her sister, Elaine Barrett, at the company. Though they were in the building on Sept. 11, Mrs. Barrett and Mr. Giordano escaped.
In addition, I discovered a little bit about Donna that illustrated her caring heart:
One priority was raising money for charity. On Sept. 7, Ms. Giordano helped organize an event to benefit Urban Pathways, a program for the homeless, at a bar near her office. As usually happened when Ms. Giordano got involved, she had persuaded executives at Aon to show up. That night, they raised $2,500.
How can anyone compare someone as kind, loving, and concerned for others as Donna with someone like Eichmann? It’s a false argument, and something a college professor, a full professor even, should never have entertained.
Donna is no Little Eichmann. Instead, Donna is a Little Franklin. Her work ethic and personal drive could be compared to that of Benjamin Franklin.
Donna is a Little Washington. Her leadership skill at Aon allowed her company and brokerage to thrive.
Donna is a Little Jefferson. Just like our 3rd President, Donna cared deeply for those less fortunate. Her struggle to do them justice embodies the compassion of our Founding Fathers.
Donna is a Little Paterson. They represent the best New Jersey has had to offer.
Donna is just one of the 2996 Little Founding Parents of our country who were taken so abruptly on September 11th, 2006. All of those people shared something in common with people who dreamed of freedom and what personal potential could be. And even though they are taken from us, we can take comfort that their enduring message is that they died free, killed by people who would callously try to strip that liberty from us.
I never knew Donna Marie Giordano. I have glimpses of her strength through tributes on the web. I also know it from what people have said about her son Michael, as he has certainly inherited much of her character.
We have said “Never Forget” about September 11, 2006, and to never forget the harm done to us by cold and calculating evildoers. But we should also amend that statement.
“Never Forget, Always Remember!” Always remember with joy those who died that day, and keep them close to our hearts.
Donna was a Bon Jovi devotee. I did a little search on YouTube and found this Bon Jovi clip (the original post had a different video that was removed from YouTube by the RIAA):
UPDATE: As we approach 9/11/11, ten years after the attack, I still remember Donna and everyone else who died around the country on 9/11/01. I find it disconcerting that it takes some even-numbered anniversary for the press to make some kind of big deal about the horrific acts of that day.
But one thing about the events commemorating that day of infamy– I’ve heard that Bon Jovi will be playing at the Sunday Night Football game on 9/11. I hope you’ll be dancing in heaven, Donna!