It was not supposed to happen. It was not possible. This was a man that was larger than life, both figuratively and literally. We thought he was invincible. We thought the towers he loved so dearly were invincible. What we did not count on was the madness of modern day evil.
Origins of a Giant
Born in 1957, Eddie was the oldest of 7 kids, raised in a strict but loving Catholic family. He was the “take care of things” type, loud in his demeanor, quiet in his acts of kindness. When you met him, your first impression was of a gruff, large, overpowering man. With his 22 inch neck and thighs the size of tree trunks, his physical presence belied the teddybear that he truly was. Yet, bigger still was the heart, a heart that overflowed with love for his family and his job. These same traits are what brought down this giant of a man.
The one tiny element of the Strauss story was his first job with the Port Authority, manning one of the small glass booths used to monitor traffic in the Lincoln tunnel. But he had bigger ambitions. By 1999, he had become Chief of World Trade Center Operations at the towers he loved so dearly.
A Hero In Motion
2001 is not the first time that the term hero is mentioned with his name. You see, he had a critical role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Six lives were lost that cold February afternoon, including a good friend of Eddie’s. She was six months pregnant, working in the office next door to his, when the explosion occurred. His life spared, he immediately swung into action, breaking through rubble to get to rescue workers and the injured. His heroics are documented in the book “Perpetual Motion” by Joe Mysak.
It’s clear now that when he escaped death in 1993, God kept him around for the bigger job he was meant to do.
It was September 11th, a bright glorious morning. He was tending to the job he loved, in the towers he cherished for 15 years. Ironically, his job was being phased out due to the sale of the World Trade buildings. He was asked to stay on permanently with the new owners, but he made a different choice. He was in the process of being interviewed for a different job in the Port Authority so that he could continue his employment and retire in ten years. They asked him and several others to stay on for the “transition” of ownership. Fate, choices, God’s will, lots of things to call it, but on that fateful morning, he did not have to be there. But he was.
As Chief of World Trade Center Operations, one of his duties was to be part of the initial response to any call for help within the complex. Many stories have come out of the ruins, who was there, doing what. We don’t have much information about the specifics of that terrible morning, because you see, like a captain on a ship, he and his brave team went down with “their building”. We don’t know how many thousands of lives his team and their plans, evacuation plans strategically put into place to respond to disasters, saved that morning. We do know that he had a choice. He could have chosen to evacuate the building like so many who now live with the horror of 9/11. He could have thought—this is not my job anymore, I have a family, that it was not worth the risks. But he didn’t. He chose to stay and put plans into actions, actions of a hero. What more heroic thing to do, as chaos and mayhem are surrounding you, than to courageously stay put to ensure the safety of others.
We never want to forget the thousands of innocent lives lost on that tragic morning. For some, because of heroes like Eddie, wounds will heal, emotions will step back in pace with the world and lives will go on. For many, the world did stop turning on September 11, 2001, the difference is that for the Strauss family and many like them, it will never again be the same. Gratefully, what we do have are memories, lovely, heartwarming memories of a man who was a hero long before 9/11.
The Founding of With Eddie’s Help
It is with this in mind that we created this corporation, “With Eddie’s Help”, Inc. in his honor. It will continue the legacy of a man, who like so many others on that horrific morning, gave their life to save others. “With Eddie’s Help”, Inc. allows us to give back to others in his name, for “With Eddie’s Help” many things are possible.