Rudy Giuliani, as mayor of the Big Apple when it was struck with unprecedented disaster on September 11, 2001, sometimes spoke to the city in a confident and reassuring manner. But reflecting back on that time 13 years later, he concedes that he was sometimes “bluffing.”
“Maybe I wasn’t sure we were going to get through it,” Giuliani told the Daily Beast. “People ask me, ‘If you met Churchill, what would you ask him?’ And I would ask him, ‘How often were you bluffing?'”
Speaking of that dark day, Giuliani does not deny covering up his inner emotions of fear and sadness. “There were times, sure,” he says. “When I would hear of people dying and I’d want to cry – and I would just stop myself.”
In retrospect, Giuliani’s doubt oozed during his first news conference—four hours or so after the North Tower collapsed. A reporter asked him how many were dead.
“The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear, ultimately,” he said then.
“Maybe it was even a personal statement—the number was too much for me to bear at that point,” he now says. “Because I had been thinking, from the time that I heard the 12,000 and then the 6,000 and then I was thinking—how do we deal with that many people dying? You know. And I knew it was going to be hundreds and hundreds of police officers and firefighters.” (Ultimately, there were 2,977 immediate victims from the attacks).
His famous quote—“the number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear, ultimately”—is on a wall of the newly opened National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Giuliani will be there Thursday, as the ceremony finally shifts to a completed site, open to the public. The museum is sunk deep below street level at the tower’s original foundation.
There are other Giuliani quotes there and several of his effects: a crushed mult box, where reporters were to plug in microphones in a mayoral press conference that never happened; a copy of his schedule for that day, updated with “CANCELED DUE TO TERRORIST ATTACK.”
Some say these momentos aren’t enough to reflect a man so linked to the nation’s response to 9/11. There is word that this done deliberately, to depoliticize the exhibits. After a recent tour, I concluded those who feel he is minimized may have a point. There are several quotes attributed to the mayor, but the only other artifact is an urn that India’s minister of defense and external affairs gave to Giuliani.