On Thursday, Nov. 7, President Donald Trump presented a posthumous Presidential Citizens Medal to the family of a retired Vietnam veteran recognized for saving thousands of lives during the terrorist bombings that occurred Sept. 11, 2001.
Army Col. Rick Rescorla, the brave citizen who died while helping others to safety during the 9/11 attack in 2001, was awarded the medal—the second-highest civilian award after the Presidential Medal of Freedom—by President Trump.
“On behalf of the entire nation, I pledge we will forever and ever memorialize this American hero,” President Trump said.
Rescorla was born in the U.K., and served as director of security for Morgan Stanley. The company at which he worked had its headquarters situated in the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Since the 1993 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center, Rescorla had established and implemented drills for evacuation to ensure the safety of employees in the event of another assault.
“This evening, we come together to pay tribute to a fallen hero who devoted his life to defending freedom and who made the supreme sacrifice to save others on Sept. 11, 2001,” the president said.
“That night, those 2,700 people went home to their loved ones,” President Trump said. “In the 18 years since, they have raised families; sent their children to college; walked their sons and daughters down the aisle; held their grandchildren thanks in great measure to one extraordinary American.”
“Rick realized he would not be happy if he was not protecting others,” the President noted.
Lt. Col. Andrew Watson remarked at the conference room dedication, remembering Rescorla for being the man who would only tend to his own safety after he had evacuated everyone from the building.
“Everybody said, ‘Rick your folks are out. You’ve done what you need to do,’ but he pointed up the stairwell and said, ‘You hear those screams? There’s more people up there. I have to help get them out,” the lieutenant colonel said, according to Military.com.
Susan, who had been married to Rescorla for less than three years before his death, spent the last 18 years protecting the memories of her late husband, accepted the honor from the president.
“Of all the accolades…” Susan said. “And all the people along the journey who have touched my life, each is so memorable because I was able to learn more about this incredible man that I have during our short time while he was here on earth.”
“I’ve never felt better in my life. I love you so,” were the last words of Rescorla spoke to his wife in a phone call from the South Tower, President Trump said in remembrance of the brave army colonel.