On September 11, 2001, Jay Winuk lost his younger brother Glenn J. Winuk, an attorney, volunteer firefighter, and EMT, when he was killed in the line of duty at the World Trade Center. Inspired by Glenn’s act of heroism, Jay co-founded MyGoodDeed, a nonprofit organization that successfully advocated for 9/11 to be designated as a “National Day of Service and Remembrance.”
Please join us for a special episode of All Inclusive as Jay discusses the 20th anniversary of 9/11, his brother’s legacy, and his passion for volunteering and national service.
Jay S. Winuk is co-founder and executive vice president of 9/11 Day and MyGoodDeed, the nonprofit organization that annually organizes the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Speaker 1 (00:07):
All Inclusive, a podcast on inclusion, innovation, and social justice, with Jay Ruderman.
Jay Ruderman (00:17):
Hi, I’m Jay Ruderman and this is All Inclusive, a podcast focused on inclusion, innovation, and social justice. Witnessing the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, affected all of us who were alive at the time. But for some, 9/11 has a far more personal and tragic experience. On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 families lost a loved one who perished at the World Trade Center in New York, on Flight 93 that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. Although nearly 20 years have elapsed, for those who are the surviving family members of 9/11 victims, the impact of that event does not fade nor do the memories or the grief. Jay Winuk is one of those family members who lost his younger brother, Glenn Winuk, an attorney and volunteer firefighter in EMT. In Glenn’s honor, Jay co-founded My Good Deed, a nonprofit organization that successfully advocates for 9/11 to be designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Jay, welcome to All Inclusive.
Jay Winuk (01:36):
Thank you for having me.
Jay Ruderman (01:37):
So all of us who were old enough to live through September 11, 2001, have distinct memories of where we were and what happened on that day and our connection, but you have a very personal connection to that day. Can you tell us about your brother Glenn and how that day unfolded for you?
Jay Winuk (02:00):
Sure. Yes, I do have a very personal connection. My brother Glenn Winuk perished on 9/11. He was a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight whose New York offices were located at 195 Broadway, which is an office building that is about two blocks from where the Trade Center had been. That morning, Glenn was in his apartment in midtown Manhattan getting ready for work, saw on TV that a plane and had hit the Trade Center. Obviously, that made a direct connection with him knowing that his colleagues were located down there. He raced down town to his office building, helped evacuate the law officers, because for 20 years, Glenn was a volunteer firefighter and an EMT. So he had the training. He knew what to do in the case of emergencies. So he helped evacuate the law officers and then from first responders on the scene at his office building, he borrowed a first responder kit, and then headed on foot west, towards the South Tower to help with the rescue effort. Glenn was specially certified in building claps rescue training. He was really adept at these kinds of emergency situations, not that there was anything akin to this previously, he had responded in 93, when the Trade Center was bombed as well. And Glenn perished when the South Tower collapsed, as part of the rescue effort.
Jay Winuk (03:42):
His partial remains were recovered March 20th, the following March, in what had been the lobby area of the South Tower, and his partial remains were covered along with those of many other first responders. So I, of course, am very proud of him, but that was how he perished, that was his actions that morning, and of course, there’s a lot to tell about how the day unfolded for myself and the rest of my family.
Jay Ruderman (04:15):
So maybe you can talk a little bit about Glenn, about what type of person he was because, I mean, I’m an attorney, I know Holland & Knight, very prestigious law firm in New York with offices around the world. It sounds like he had a great career, but not only that, a dedication to public service. But to sort of walk away from that life and say, I’m running into a building where I know there’s a good possibility this building is coming down, that takes a special kind of human being. And maybe you can talk about his personality, because I think a lot of people probably would have turned the other way and said, let’s get out in New York City right now. Things look really bad.
Jay Winuk (04:59):
Well, I appreciate your kind words about him. He was a special person. And you’re right, most people did what they should have done, which is to run the other way. But of course, where would we be without the first responders who run in and who always run in. I mean, this is what firefighters and cops and EMTs and military personnel, this is what they’re trained to do, I think there’s something different about them in their makeup, and having … Glenn was three years my junior. We shared a bedroom growing up in Jericho on Long Island. As soon as he could join the fire department, he did. He was inspired by our uncle Harold Einhorn, who was an officer in a Brooklyn Fire Company. Glenn was always enthralled with the first responder community in general, but it was particularly of interest to him to join the fire department when he could, and he did. Our older brother Jeff was also a volunteer firefighter in Jericho.
Jay Winuk (06:01):
And so this was his makeup. He was the kind of person who was very giving, not only in emergency situations, but he regularly went out of his way for people, whether it was to say a nice word to the manager of a restaurant about the busboy or stopping to help somebody fix a flat tire on the road, who he didn’t know, or helping friends or family with legal issues, out of the goodness of his heart, he was an extremely giving person. So he truly lived his life in service to other people, and that I think is admirable. He was a great guy. He really was.
Jay Ruderman (06:46):
Well, I’m so sorry for your loss.
Jay Winuk (06:48):
Jay Ruderman (06:49):
You lost your brother, we know 3,000 other families lost family members, on September 11. For those of us who lived through it, it’s left a mark that will never leave us. Being from Boston, I remember at the time several of the planes left from Boston, it was a surreal day where you’re watching TV live, and you can see the planes flying into the towers, and then it was a series, I don’t know, of hours before the towers came down. But seeing the pictures and again afterwards documentaries of firefighters and police officers walking up 100 plus story building, trying to get people down there, when they knew very well that their lives were in danger. These people were heroes and should be remembered as such.
Jay Ruderman (07:50):
But let’s just set the stage for people who maybe are younger, who don’t remember 9/11 on a first hand basis. What do you want them to remember about this day? And for us, I mean, I think it’s a significant day, because this was the biggest attack on the United States, I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. So it was a shock to the system. Maybe you can just describe the collective feeling in New York and in the United States of how that day impacted Americans.
Jay Winuk (08:32):
Yes. You reference the attack at Pearl Harbor and that is a point of reference. That is a historical point of reference that often does come up and appropriately so. I mean, like then, 9/11 was an attack on our freedoms, our way of life. Innocent people were killed. These were not military personnel. We were not in a traditional war with those who attacked us. And it was a real shock to the system. It is one of those moments in the historical timeline that anybody who was old enough to remember it will never forget, of course. You asked about things that people who did not live through it should know about it. And there are several. And one is that, of course, that this was an attack, in many ways, though, in unprecedented fashion. And to see those buildings come down was just horrific.
Jay Winuk (09:39):
The initial estimates of how many people would have died, were expected to have died, were significantly higher, and it’s a testament to the first responders who went into save lives that so many actually were able to get out before those buildings came down and didn’t perish, though so many were injured. And of course, so many have been sickened and have died since, of course, because of exposures to the toxins that that attack released, which is a whole other topic that we could get into. But that’s one lesson. That’s one fact that the future generations must understand. This was an attack on our way of life and our freedoms, by those who think differently. And the bravery that we’ve talked about, of the first responders who ran in, as others wisely ran out. We’re not trying to, of course, to save others and to deal with such situations.
Jay Winuk (10:42):
But it’s essential. It’s essential that future generations understand how people came together in response, spontaneously, naturally, and in a way that was sustained for months. It was a time in this country, and globally, for that matter, when we put aside our differences, where we focused on our common humanity, where we realized that we’re stronger together than we are apart, that things can be accomplished together by people who don’t necessarily share the same geography, the same religion, the same race, the same economic status, the same sexual orientation, whatever it is, the same age. Everybody came together. Everybody wanted to pitch in. Everybody was kinder to each other. It was a phenomenon that I had not experienced in my life and I think most people that I’ve talked to feel the same way. And that’s to be cherished and remembered and understood by young people and future generations. And in fact, was the inspiration, that phenomenon, for what became the September 11, National Day of Service and Remembrance that some of us began.
Jay Ruderman (11:59):
I just want to take us back to that day one more time because I remember waking up, and it was a crystal clear day, it was a beautiful day-
Jay Winuk (12:08):
Jay Ruderman (12:08):
… in the fall. And just a normal day, like every other day going spring, I mean, summer to fall. But the heroism, not only in New York, but also Flight 93, that was brought down by the crew in a field in Pennsylvania, and the heroism when the Pentagon was hit. And I remember there was a tremendous amount of fear. We didn’t know where the next attack was coming from. We hadn’t experienced this attack in decades, this was not an attack by a nation, it was a terrorist attack. And it was a day of fear. And there was fear throughout the country and people did come together. And I think people come together during very difficult times. We’re now living through a year and a half of COVID and hopefully things are better than they were, and hopefully they’ll get better and not get worse. But COVID was something that happened over a long period of time, where gradually we understood the threat. In the United States, and the world have lost a tremendous amount of people who didn’t have to die because of COVID.
Jay Ruderman (13:30):
But this was a shock. This was a different experience. This was an attack on the United States, as you said, an attack on our freedoms, on our way of life, that happened very suddenly. And how do you talk to people who are now, I mean, we’re all living through COVID, young people, old people, this is something that’s happening in our … Do you talk to people and make any sort of like analogy to try to connect people through what they’re going through right now? And what happened at that time?
Jay Winuk (14:03):
All the time. I mean, your question is right on target, because this may be the first kind of experience since 9/11, where as a nation, we have all been affected one way or another by some kind of traumatic event. And yes, it was something that rolled out and did its destruction more slowly, over a longer period of time than what happened on 9/11. Although a case can be made that for those who were volunteers and first responders or who lived and worked down there, that has dragged on for 20 years too, again, because of the exposures to the toxins and the slow rollout of the illnesses. But there are differences, but there are many parallels to what the country has gone through and is still going through. And it does come back to the key points about heroism. I mean, look at the heroism of the health care professionals dealing with this pandemic months after months and months. It was unbelievable and continues to be. I mean, they were our frontline responders risking their own lives as only they could. Where would we have been without them?
Jay Winuk (15:24):
And so it’s amazing to see people who have the courage to step forward to help people who are in dire circumstances. These aren’t the only two times through our history where something like that has happened, but it is a wake up call each time it does happen. But like 9/11, in many ways this pandemic is a mass tragedy, a mass traumatic event, and we all needed to come together and pull together in order to get out of it. That has been apparent in many ways and in other ways, I think, there are many people in this country who are very frustrated with the pace of the realization that we all really must work together, and work from factual information, and have those who have the wherewithal and the expertise to lead us out of a tragedy. All these things really matter. They make a difference.
Jay Ruderman (16:34):
Right, they sure do. And the first responders are doctors or nurses who are, for over a year, year and a half, have been on the front lines of COVID, are certainly first responders. I just want to set the scene a little bit more that the World Trade Center were two of the tallest buildings in New York, that not only when they came down, and these buildings could hold, I believe, more than 10,000 people in terms of employees, not only the first responders that rushed in at the time, but when these buildings came down, lower Manhattan was a disaster area and all of the debris which turned out to be toxic and cancerous, and the first responders who developed diseases and died since that day. I mean, it had a traumatic impact on our country, which I think is still being felt by people that were there, their family members, and so forth. So this was not a passing event. This is an event that has lingered on, and has really impacted our country. Maybe you can talk about, following 9/11, how did you first honor your brother in his bravery?
Jay Winuk (18:08):
Well, it’s certainly an unusual way to lose somebody. Look, we all those people we love in our lives. Nobody is immune from that. But to lose somebody at the hands of terrorists as part of a mass murder, and on top of that to not even know if they’re alive or dead for weeks on end, that’s an unusual circumstance. You’re part of this … at least at the time, I didn’t know other 9/11 family members, and yet there were, when you think of each person and how many people are in their families, you think of thousands of people who are going through what you’re going through in such a public way, and yet you don’t know any of them other than your own extended family members.
Jay Winuk (19:05):
It was such a strange time, Jay, I have to tell you. I mean, we held out hope, although it diminished with each day that somehow Glenn was still alive, amnesia in a hospital somewhere, buried several storys below where there might have been food or water or air. You think about what happened in Florida recently and there are parallels there of course too with that horrific building collapse. But once we accepted what the authorities were telling us, that it was no longer a rescue effort, but a recovery effort, then of course you have to plan a funeral with nobody. I mean, just such strange things you have to consider. What are the religious implications of that? How do you do that? But we did.
Jay Winuk (19:53):
I was certainly going to do something in Glenn’s honor. What it was going to be, I didn’t know, but I did not want his death to pass without trying to do something meaningful for other people, as a way to honor him. He lived his life, he truly lived his life in service to other people, and he died in service to other people. And so that was my initial thinking and it did unfold eventually into something that I still work on today, which is the 9/11 Day of Service, which I can tell you plenty about.
Jay Ruderman (20:40):
Right. I remember the weeks following, family members with photographs and flyers of family members saying, have you seen this person? This person is missing. It was so heart wrenching. And then, of course, most people were not found alive. But I can only imagine what you and your family went through. The shock, but the shock that lasted for weeks on end. And again, my condolences.
Jay Winuk (21:22):
Jay Ruderman (21:23):
In 2002, which was only a year after the September 11th attacks, you co-founded the 9/11 Day of Observance Initiative. Can you talk about your role in establishing that initiative and then transforming that, from a Remembrance Day to a National Day of Service.
Jay Winuk (21:49):
Both components of that are really important. Both the remembrance and the service. I got a call weeks after 9/11, from a friend in California named David Payne. David had been a New Yorker. We knew each other for years, because we had both worked for what at the time was the world’s largest public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller. We didn’t work on the same accounts, but we knew each other, we had mutual friends there at the agency, and we stayed in touch when David went to California to start his own PR firm. So David called me saying, “Look, you’re the only 9/11 family member I know. I know you lost your brother. I have this thought, but I want to bounce it off of a 9/11 family member.” I mean, that’s where you have to start with this.
Jay Winuk (22:45):
And he was recognizing the way that people were coming together, the way people were doing whatever they could to engage in something that was meaningful to people who were affected. When you expand out beyond the 9/11 community, people who were directly affected one way or the other to the nation at large, because we all were affected by it. It was an attack on our nation. So he said, “What do you think about this idea of trying to start a grassroots movement, where we have a ritual in this country, at least on 9/11 each year where people just remember the day by doing good deeds for other people.” And I thought, boy, what a gift to me, really, because as I described to you before, I would want to do something that honor the way Glenn lived his life, and that is the way he lived his life.
Jay Winuk (23:41):
One of my first thoughts when David called was that, Glenn would be first in line for this kind of thing had he not perished in 9/11. So I said to David, look … at the time, both my Sy and Elaine Winuk, were still alive, they had lost their youngest son. I’m just trying to keep my parents and my family afloat. Let me give this some thought and let’s talk again in a few months. And that we did. It was at a point where I was now ready to jump in to try to establish an initiative. And so we set up a website, we did some initial research, we set up meetings with leaders of all the many 9/11 related organizations that had surfaced, all working on very good and important causes. Because our feeling was that, if this idea of creating a day of service in honor of those affected, didn’t sit right with the 9/11 community, then we weren’t on the right track. But indeed, when we met with all of these people, several of whom we pulled together in one meeting and some others we met individually with, there was universal acceptance of this and appreciation for this.
Jay Winuk (24:55):
And the 9/11 community didn’t agree on all things all the time. I can tell you like anything that comes out of a major event, people have different points of views. But on this everybody seemed to really think, boy, if you guys could get this going, that would be great. So we set up a board of directors, we set up nonprofit organization, a 501(c)(3). We had no budget, we had no staff, we had no real plan in place, but we had a good idea and we were a couple of PR guys who know how to get the word out. And so that was really the origin of it and it’s been an amazing journey since and I’m sure we’ll talk more about that, but with the help of a lot of people, we’ve grown it from a simple idea into the nation’s largest annual day of charitable engagement.
Jay Ruderman (25:47):
And how has the government reacted to this private initiative, in terms of recognition and in terms of getting behind it?
Jay Winuk (25:57):
Mostly supportive, in a bipartisan way. It took some years. It wasn’t a quick thing. I mean, we walked the halls of Congress for years, meeting with senators, meeting with House of Representatives, congressmen and women, meeting with their senior staffs, meeting with officials from the White House, meeting with leaders of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is now AmeriCorps, and which is essentially the service related arm of the US government. We had great support along the way, but it wasn’t until 2009 as part of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, that September 11, National Day of Service and Remembrance was officially designated under federal law and presidential proclamation. And we do get some of our funding from the federal government each year to do some of the work that we do around the country, so that’s very helpful, but we’ve had pretty good bipartisan support along the way, I must tell you. And that’s the way it should be.
Jay Ruderman (27:21):
Jay, can you talk a little bit about the relationship between the families of victims from September 11th, and what those relationships have developed into over the years?
Jay Winuk (27:39):
That’s a good question and an important one to me personally. As I said earlier, I didn’t know or anybody else from the 9/11 community other than my own cousins, aunts, uncles, brother, my parents, I mean. If I could use this word blessings, it’s one of the handful of blessings that came out of this tragedy for me personally. I have come to know countless people within the 9/11 community. And when I say that phrase, 9/11 community, by the way, I do so intentionally. People often think of just the families, but it’s broader than that. It’s the first responder community. It’s people who worked down there who lost colleagues that they weren’t related to. It’s people who lived in the neighborhood whose lives were directly affected. It’s people who survived with injury, or just survived, but were traumatized. It’s volunteers who showed up in the immediate aftermath to help clear the debris and look for remains. It’s a very broad community of people who in one way or another were directly touched by the event. So it’s 9/11 community.
Jay Winuk (28:59):
And I am blessed to have developed relationships with countless people within that community and it is extraordinary to see the work that has come from so many of these people, so many great initiatives, scholarships, and charitable work, and healthcare related work, and building safety related work, and on and on and on, educational initiatives. It is an amazing community of people and I’m just proud to know so many of these people. We all don’t know each other. Obviously, it’s an enormous community, but I happen to know a lot of people because of the work that I do for the 9/11 day, which is the shortened nomenclature for the September 11th, National Day of Service and Remembrance, 9/11 Day. These are some of the people I’m closest to in my life and I’m a better person for it.
Jay Ruderman (29:58):
Maybe you can talk a little bit about what you’ve noticed over the years about the long-term or generational trauma that these families have gone through, some who now have victims who have maybe grandchildren that they never met. How are the families affected 20 years on from what happened on that day?
Jay Winuk (30:23):
I have two children. One is 24 and one’s 18. So the 24 year old, my son, Justin, who lives up in Boston, he was four when his uncle was taken from him. So his memories are very limited of his uncle. My daughter was born in 2002. And that was a real blessing. It was very life affirming for my family, but she never got to meet her uncle. So in some ways, they really have been cheated. My brother Glenn was cheated. He did not live long enough to have children. He did not live long enough to experience so many things that he would have over the course of these last 20 years. But 9/11 reverberates all over the country still, we live in this post 9/11 world. It’s affected everything.
Jay Winuk (31:17):
How we walk into a building, how we get onto a plane, how our nation deals with other nations, I mean. But many people are traumatized within the 9/11 community by something else that isn’t talked about enough, which is holding those who were directly responsible beyond the 19 hijackers accountable for what happened, because there’s substantial evidence about Saudi Arabia’s culpability. 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian, or Saudi nationals. But there is a lot of trauma still within the 9/11 community, because so many of us feel that those who played a role in supporting this horrific attack, which murdered our loved ones, have yet to been held to account for providing such support. So that too, is traumatizing.
Jay Ruderman (32:21):
I wanted to touch on that, which I know is a sensitive point, because the United States still has a very strong relationship with Saudi Arabia, but most of the hijackers did come out of Saudi Arabian, and with the families of the victims, what is the attitude? I’m sure it spans the spectrum about Saudi Arabia and their role and have they expressed remorse, have they done enough for these families, in terms of trying to make the world a better place following this tragedy that they obviously have some responsibility for?
Jay Winuk (33:08):
Look, anybody who thinks that these 19 hijackers pulled this off without serious support from entities with means, financially, logistically and otherwise, is not looking at the full picture of what happened here. And so much has been learned since the 9/11 commission ended its work. There are more than 10,000 plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that is current and revealing, and is obviously very serious. I mean, this is the largest attack that our nation, terrorist attack, our nation has ever experienced. And there is still work to be done to hold those who support the hijackers to account. And there is great frustration in the 9/11 community at large that our government, our federal government is not being more cooperative in terms of transparency, with documents that really need to be declassified, and are not. I mean, we could spend an hour talking about just this topic, but there is real pain, pain that added pain within the 9/11 community, because we have not yet brought this to resolution.
Jay Ruderman (34:38):
So maybe you can talk a little bit about what the day actually looks like on 9/11 Day. What is a Day of National Service, a good D day look like in reality?
Jay Winuk (34:53):
So that’s a very important question because it takes many forms. From the outset, our intention was not for everybody to do the same thing, but rather to do something in your own comfort zone. And that’s been one of the great appeals. It’s not a day where everybody does a 5K walk, run, or everybody donates blood, though that happens on 9/11. It’s a day where you just need to do a good deed in honor of those who were directly affected, and those who rose in service and response. And so that opens the door up to the potential for everybody to participate, and has resonated with the country. So I have a front row seat every year to this amazing outpouring of good deeds that take every kind of form you can imagine. And that can be in a self directed way, an individual choosing to visit a nursing home and just donating something or spending an hour with an elderly person who doesn’t get visitors very often or 1,000 other examples, or as part of an organized effort that your faith based group, your local sports team, your municipality, your college, your grade school, may be doing, a local nonprofit, may be doing that you can join up with. So there’s support for the troops, there are hunger initiatives, which we’re very engaged in.
Jay Winuk (36:26):
There are all kinds of donation programs, they’re park and beach cleanups. They’re donation of clothes. It just really goes on and on. It’s extraordinary initiative. And during the pandemic last year, so much moved to virtual, including what we do as an organization. And even that was so robust. I mean, we couldn’t even keep up with the traffic on our website, because we had established kind of 9/11 day at home, where people do engage in servers from the safety of their home, from their phones or laptops or desktops, by providing all these ways that you could engage in service simply by clicking here and there. And that was extraordinarily successful. People’s want to do. They want to do. If they know about 9/11 being a day of service, they want to do it. So to answer your question in a shorter way, if you pick 1,000 people, you’re going to find 1,000 different good deeds. It’s really something to witness.
Jay Ruderman (37:30):
So how do you think 9/11 Day is going to shape future generations? Those of us who are listening who were not alive at that time, what impact will it have on them going forward?
Jay Winuk (37:45):
From day one, this is what we were thinking about Jay, because we knew that some point, those of us who lived through 9,11 are just not going to be here. So what do we want future generations to learn about the day? Our feeling was that if they just learned about the attacks, we have lost an opportunity, and maybe the terrorists win a little bit more, if that’s all that people remember about the way we were knocked down. More important is the way we responded, the way we came together, the way Americans and the world got back on our feet. When I say the world, I mean, people for more than 90 countries were killed on that day.
Jay Winuk (38:32):
And so it’s really important that future generations who did not live through this really understand the way that people came together and now we all have an opportunity and an obligation, if you can, to make the world a little bit better for other people, not just on this day, but this is a day where we can shine a spotlight on it. But we’re working very hard … 30 million people participate in 9/11 Day, that’s great. But it’s a 10th of the country, and so we have a lot of work to do, even right here in this country, to say nothing of internationally. And so there’s a lot of work still to be done to really establish this as a ritual that is not going to go away long after you and I and everybody else listening to this is gone. It’s a real goal.
Jay Ruderman (39:29):
So September 11th, 2021, is 20 years since the attacks. What is the day look like this year with this significant milestone?
Jay Winuk (39:45):
Anniversaries are a tricky thing. I’m still on the public relations business even after all these years and clients go through anniversaries and they’re like, well, we have a big anniversary coming up. It’s going to be great. It’s only great if you use the anniversary as a way to shine a spotlight on something that is forward looking, not just looking back. And this is a moment in history, this 20th anniversary, that I think is really significant, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is this pandemic. We have a National Day of Service, as we are still reeling from this pandemic, and people are really hurting coming out of it, economically, health wise, hunger wise, how they do their jobs moving forward in terms of employment. There’s so many issues coming out of this pandemic that in some ways the 20th anniversary has such potential to make a difference. And so we’re very focused on that.
Jay Winuk (40:54):
But I think that in terms of, let’s say, news coverage, for example, like at the 10th anniversary of 9/11, which was a real, real major news story, I think the 20th is going to be too, I know it is going to be, just in terms of contact that we and so many others that I know have been in touch with so many media about this, not only nationally, but internationally. But it’s an opportunity. This 20th anniversary is an opportunity to really reassess what we have learned in the 20 years since and what we need to do as a nation going forward. So I really hope that people are going to pay attention to this and really focus on, what do we need to do to make the world better together, because things are really tough for a lot of people right now and there is a great deal of divisiveness that is destructive, not constructive. 9/11 is a day to come together.
Jay Ruderman (41:55):
I think it’s such an important point. I mean, we live in such a divisive time in American history, we’ve lived two other divisive times, but certainly now we seem to be at each other’s throats, and if a day like this can really bring us together, which I think it can, it’s so vitally important. How do you think you, 20 years on, are going to spend this day yourself? Have you thought about that?
Jay Winuk (42:26):
Well, I know how I’ll spend the day. In some ways, it’s a frustrating day because there are about 10 places I’d like to be, not the least of which is in Jericho at a park down the street from where Glenn and I and my older brother Jeff grew up, that’s named in Glenn’s honor now. And his fire department every year does a ceremony at the Jericho firehouse and then they do a procession to the park and have a ceremony there. And it’s a great frustration for me because I can’t be there. I’m in New York City every year on 9/11. I go to the memorial service at Ground Zero. I’m actively engaged in staging, each year a major volunteer project, which we do every year or more the intrepid where we bring thousands of volunteers during the course of the day, to come together and pack more than a million meals, non perishable meals that are then donated to food banks in New York, to distribute it to people who need, and by the way we do that in cities all over the country, these large scale meal packs on 9/11 as one way. That’s just one way for people to engage in service, but these initiatives really make a difference.
Jay Winuk (43:41):
So that tends to be pretty busy day for me. We’ve had the honor of ringing the bell at the stock exchange for the last seven or eight years to shine a spotlight on how the financial community was hit so hard when 9/11 happened. There’s a lot that goes on each year on 9/11. It’s a very busy day for me, but I try to also take some personal time, and that’s usually at the end of the day, it could be two o’clock in the morning, but I always wind up at the firefighters Memorial wall, which is positioned along ancient 10 [inaudible 00:44:23] Ten House, a little firehouse opposite Ground Zero, which is dedicated in not only in Glenn’s honor, but of course in honor of the 343 FDNY fire members who perished, and to all firefighters. Glenn’s firm Holland & Knight raised all the money for that firefighters Memorial wall and there’s a plaque there for him. And so no matter what’s happened during the day, I wind up there, and as I say it could be 2:00 in the morning and there are people crowded around this magnificent bronze memorial to firefighters everywhere and that’s when I take a few minutes personally to especially think about Glenn and what he did just steps away.
Jay Ruderman (45:08):
Well, Jay, I really want to thank you for joining us today and spending the time. Again, my condolences for your loss, my condolences to all of the families who have lost victims have this day of 9/11. And your brother is a hero, who should be remembered along with others. And you yourself have changed the way Americans are observing and reacting to this day. So you deserve a lot of credit yourself. I know it’s probably a role that you don’t cherish, but I want to thank you for your service to our country, and it’s been such an honor having you as my guest on All Inclusive.
Jay Winuk (45:51):
Jay, you’re very kind to say that. I really do appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and your audience. For those who are interested in learning more or interested in participating in the observance, they could go to 911day.org. There’s lots of information there. We’re going to be launching a new website soon with even more information. We have a great education program that goes on in the schools and there’s so much information there. It’s a really robust observance. So if anybody wants to find out more, 911day.org is the place to go. But thank you very much. It’s been my pleasure to speak with you.
Jay Ruderman (46:30):
Thank you. And I’m going to urge my listeners to go to 911.org. And I have four children who were born after September 11, 2001, and I certainly want them to understand what happened here and to give something back. So thank you. I urge everyone to check out the website and find out how you can help remember this day and do something positive in remembrance of those whose lives were lost. So thank you so much Jay.
Jay Winuk (47:01):
All right. Take care. Good to speak with you.
Speaker 1 (47:07):
All Inclusive is a production of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Our key mission is the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society. You can find All Inclusive on Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher. To view the show notes, transcripts, or to learn more, go to rudermanfoundation.org/allinclusive. Have an idea for a podcast, be sure to tweet at Jay Ruderman.