‘Never forget’ 9/11 vow still means so much to so many

Sister of victim, Andy Card and Bill Bratton all to honor heroes who sacrificed their lives that day

(091116 Boston, MA)- The 9/11 memorial at the Boston Public Garden, September 11, 2016. Boston Herald photo by Ryan McBride
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Nobody wanted to cancel cops 19 years ago today, said Debra Burlingame, who lost her brother in the 9/11 attacks.

Police, firefighters, EMTs, soldiers, chaplains, co-workers, the heroes on the four hijacked jets — they all confronted certain death to save others. But the defund the police movement, Burlingame said, has left her forlorn.

“This 9/11 anniversary feels like a bitter betrayal of what what America stood for that day,” Burlingame told the Herald. “So many didn’t run the other way. Firefighters hugged each other goodbye as they went up those stairwells. Cops, too.”

Andy Card, chief of staff to then President George W. Bush, said in today’s difficult times, it’s even more important to honor the dead.

“We all promised never to forget. I won’t forget. It’s deep in me,” said Card, a Holbrook native. “We have an obligation to remember and respect with gratitude those who died.”

He has the grim tally of those who perished on 9/11 memorized — 2,997 souls.

That includes 343 firefighters, 23 New York City police officers, 37 Port Authority officers and 55 military personnel.

“It’s important to recognize, no matter the circumstances, those who said they’ll be there for us,” said Card, who was on the front lines of the terrorist attack that day sticking to the president’s side. “Police have thick skin and big hearts. They show up to do their jobs — even if they’re not invited.”

Former Boston Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he’s convinced “America has not forgotten” the heroism. But, he did say the “rhetoric” surrounding police officers needs to be put in perspective.

“The actions of a few should not taint the actions of 800,000,” said Bratton, who has also headed police departments in New York City and Los Angeles. “A lot of Americans in their quest to have racial justice are forgetting that the vast majority of cops are willing to risk their lives for citizens.”

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That will be the message on this 9/11 in both New York City and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, where both President Trump and Joe Biden are scheduled to appear. That’s where the 40 passengers and crew aboard the last of the hijacked jets rushed the cabin and took control crashing in Shanksville.

“Let’s roll,” was the rallying cry of the Flight 93 heroes that day. They probably saved the U.S. Capitol and changed the dynamic of the day.

That fighting spirit, says Burlingame, should compel national and local leaders to be equally courageous.

“There are a lot of cowards in Congress and statehouses right now,” the 66-year-old former TV producer said. “They are selling a bad message to our kids, who are not being taught to do critical thinking.”

Burlingame’s brother Charles “Chic” Burlingame III was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 that was hijacked out of Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., and flown into the Pentagon on 9/11.

It hit about an hour after both American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 — both out of Logan International Airport in Boston — slammed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan 18 minutes apart beginning at 8:45 a.m.

Chic Burlingame was a former Navy fighter pilot who flew F-14s off aircraft carriers. “People used to say he was in the movie ‘Top Gun’ because he was so handsome,” Debra Burlingame said.

But the cancel culture and defunding movement, she said, won’t keep her from honoring his memory — and others — this 9/11 anniversary.

“I’ll think about all the magnificent people who died and all the magnificent people who rushed to the scene in New York City, the Pentagon and in Shanksville,” she said. “That day was a triumph of decency over depravity.”

(8/10/18) A hand out photo of Debra Burlingame and her late brother Charles Burlingame. Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the plane that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon. (Photo courtesy of the family.)