All the world will long remember the terrorist attack that occurred on September 11, 2001. On that day, terrorists hijacked four passenger jets for a suicide mission that had been years in the planning.
The people who did this hate the United States for many reasons which you will -- you must -- learn about as you grow up. That is because the world you grow up in suddenly became a different place on that day.
On that September 11, in the public mind, international terrorism joined international drug trafficking and organized crime in an unholy trinity of threats to the American people and to our cherished heritage of freedom, tolerance and democracy.
When the towers of the World Trade Center came crashing down that morning, over three thousand people died. The dead included many firefighters and police officers. One of the latter was a much-loved cop named Charles M. Mills, known as Charlie to one and all.
Charlie was the very model of a community police officer. He reminded me of another story from the Arabian Nights -- that of the Caliph, or ruler, of Baghdad, a man named Haroun al-Rashid, who used to disguise himself as a beggar and go about the city at night to learn first-hand about the cares and problems of his people. Charlie was like that, although, of course, he didn't disguise himself.
I got to know Charlie when he served the people of the city of Schenectady, New York as their Police Commissioner. Charlie threw himself into the life of that community -- a city that had a lot of problems because there were many people out of work and drug dealers who took advantage of their hopelessness.
Charlie famously teamed up with Tom Constantine in November 1993 to pull off a big drug raid -- the one referred to on the title page of this book -- called "Operation: Crackdown" (and, as you will recall, "Constantine's Circus" by Mr. Fred LeBrun) that brought about a long-lasting reduction in crime to the city of Schenectady.
Charlie moved on to other challenges in law enforcement. He was serving a state government agency and supervising the evacuation of civilian employees from the stricken tower at the time of his death.
Those of us who knew him will never forget his infectious humor, his enthusiasm for law enforcement and his penetrating, ice-blue eyes.
Schenectady had woes and ills.
And so, we hired Charlie Mills.
When Charlie took the town's commission,
He swore improvement as his mission.
He went to work at breakneck pace
To make an impact on the place.
No iv'ry tower for this Commish.
He cut his bait and caught his fish.
He lasted but a brief few years;
But left with our regrets and tears.
Yes, O, this town did Charlie touch
And that is why we love him much.
Was there a time when Charlie quailed?
When of our trust that Charlie failed?
Never happened. There's no way
That he'd not rush to save the day.
In times of old did al-Rashid
Concerned with all his people's need
Go forth at night in beggars' clothes
To hear first hand the people's woes.
Thus did Charlie pound a beat
Like any patrolman on the street.
Thus did Charlie win our hearts:
Community cop -- was Charlie's art.
From far away beyond our town
Someone sought to strike him down
And take from us our faithful friend
Who with such heart did us defend.
They, through this horrific crime,
Did take our Charlie before his time.
However they might hurt us much
There's something that they just can't touch.
For everywhere that cops walk beats
There's some of Charlie on those streets.
You cannot keep a good man down
And still he watches o'er our town.
Behold our man from flames arise.
Behold our Charlie's ice blue eyes.
Towering tall above Ground Zero
Stands Charlie Mills, American Hero.
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