By Queens Courier Staff |

Where were you when you heard that planes had struck the World Trade Center?

I was on the 8:30 a.m. Delta Shuttle at LaGuardia on my way to Washington for votes when I received an email from my chief of staff that said “where are you?” Then a second, more urgent email. I called the office and heard the news that would forever change my life – that would forever change America.

What was your initial reaction to the attack?

I was terrified for my family, particularly my cousins John and Mike Moran who were both firefighters with Ladder 3 in lower Manhattan. I later learned that John had driven to the World Trade Center with a group of colleagues and when they reached the foot of Tower 2 John said, “Let me off here. I am going to try to make a difference.” Those were John’s last known words. He was one of 343 firefighters who risked everything to try to make a difference that day.

Ten years later, what are your thoughts and feelings about how far we have come since then?

The day after the attacks, I remember standing at the crater of what was once of New York’s most majestic buildings. It was hard to imagine how in one place, on one morning, and in the greatest city in the world such loss could occur. But despite the deep pain and mourning, there was also a feeling of pride. You could feel our country’s unity and our determination to emerge stronger. That spirit is something I believe we need to recapture. America is the greatest country in the world – and, those who made the ultimate sacrifice that day would never want us to forget that.