Reflections >> Writing by Deanna Randazzo (8th grade 2003)

My Favorite American Hero

My Uncle Mike is my favorite American hero. He was a New York City firefighter. He died saving people at the World Trade Center.

It was the end of third period on September 11, 2001. My principal came onto the loud speaker and said that the World Trade Center had been attacked. I really didn't know what was going on at the time. When I walked into fourth period it hit me. I said to myself, oh my God; my uncle is a New York City firefighter. I spent the whole day worrying if he was ok. When I went home I asked my mom if he was ok. She didn't hear anything yet. Then my grandpa called and said that a fireman called him and told him that my Uncle Mike was ok. We were all relieved.

Later that night we were told that the previous news was a mistake. My Uncle Mike did go to the twin towers before they collapsed. He worked in Ladder 35 Engine 40 in Manhattan. His firehouse was 6 miles from the World Trade center. Every day after school I went to my grandma's house to be with the whole family. We all waited for a phone call from him. After a month went by my family started to lose hope. I still had hope in my heart. I prayed every night that he was ok. I said to myself every night that he will call tomorrow. But he never did. It was very hard to admit that he was never going to call or come home, but after months went by, I had to.

It has been over a year and a half since his death. My grandmother created a garden in her backyard. She planted a tree with different flowers around it. There is also a picture of him. The town renamed my grandma's street. Under the original street sign it says "Michael Otten Memorial Road." They are also renaming my cousin's street in East Islip, Michael J Otten Memorial Road. It has been very hard for my Aunt Marion and her three children. My cousins' names are Chris, Jonathan, and Jason. At J.F.K Elementary School (where Jonathan and Jason go), the community helped build a memorial garden for my uncle.

I give my family a lot of credit. We have stuck together through this horrible time and we will stick together forever. We have tried to help my aunt Marion and cousins through their tough times and as a strong family we will always be there for each other. I will never forget my Uncle Mike and I think about him a lot. He died saving those who were in danger. I can't imagine what he was thinking when he was running in to save those people in the towers. I miss him very much and he will never be forgotten. He was brave and I am very proud of him. My Uncle Mike is my favorite American hero.

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