From the desk of Mayor Sam Alai

About 10 days ago, we commemorated the 22nd anniversary of one of the most somber days in our country’s history, 9/11. Even though it’s been more than two decades since that fateful day, in some ways, it still feels like yesterday. Each year at this time, I think about all the people who perished that day, as well as their family members. The passage of time does not erase their loss. With each new birth, wedding, birthday, and graduation, they are reminded of the devastating loss they suffered in 2001.

Just as my parents often reminisced about where they were when John F. Kennedy died in 1963, my wife and I think about where we were on 9/11. Our children were in school, with the exception of our younger son, who was at the dentist with my wife, Terry. As she listened to the overhead radio in the office, she heard an obviously upset newscaster interrupt the music and announce that a plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers. As we talked on the phone, another plane hit. It was at that moment that I realized it was not an accident. It was a terrorist attack. My heart sank as I thought about the people in the towers, on the planes and the people on the ground in New York City.

We received word from the Brecksville-Broadview Heights superintendent that our children were safe, but as we listened to the barrage of news reports, our concern shifted to the safety of our oldest son, who attended St. Ignatius High School. Because he was in a location that we thought might be vulnerable to subsequent attacks, I jumped in the car and drove downtown to retrieve him. Once of all of our children were safely home with us that day, we, like every other person around the world, were glued to our television. The devastating loss of life was unfathomable, but the one constant was the endless coverage of first responders and our fellow citizens helping each other, which was truly inspirational.

As the mayor and safety directory of Broadview Heights, I have been given the privilege of working with the highly-dedicated and well-trained members of our fire and police departments. Without question, these folks’ top priority is all of us. No matter the challenge, they face it with professionalism, compassion and level heads. Every week I hear from a resident about something positive that one of our firefighters or police officers did, always accomplished with a respectful tone and an obvious concern for whomever is in the challenging situation. I’m sure that I speak for all of us when I say that our entire community extends its sincerest gratitude to Chief Steven Raiff and the police department, as well as Chief Jeffery Hajek and the fire department. How blessed we are to have them all watching over us!

In closing, I’d like to welcome Jeff Harrison, the new superintendent of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District. I had an opportunity to meet Jeff when I was invited to speak to the BBH staff at their convocation last month, as well as when he came to introduce himself at a recent council meeting. I am very confident that Jeff will bring a breath of fresh air to our students, parents and the staff. City Council and I look forward to a renewed relationship with BBH as he leads us into a new era of collaboration and open communication. ∞