Italian American group honored for patriotism by 9/11 hero’s foundation

The Italian American Heritage Society of Boca Raton was honored Sept. 9 with a commemorative plaque from the Rick Rescorla Foundation in appreciation of the society’s efforts to support programs that reflect a reverence for God and country.

The group is made up of South Florida residents of Italian ancestry who come together to socialize and celebrate their culture and traditions. According to Italian American Heritage Society President Bill Petraglia Sr., many military veterans and public service workers, some of whom moved to South Florida from New York City, enjoy the fellowship IAHS provides. The presentation of the plaque from the Rescorla Foundation was a way of recognizing the group’s strong emphasis on patriotism, as well as its reputation for honoring heroes on occasions such as Memorial Day and 9/11.

The foundation is named for Rick Rescorla, head of security for the investment firm Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and a 9/11 hero credited with saving the lives of hundreds of employees when the twin towers were bombed the first time in 1993. A combat veteran in three wars, the retired Army colonel was killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. His story has been told in countless media reports and in the book, “Heart of a Soldier,” by Pulitzer Prize winner James B. Stewart.

An especially poignant aspect of Rescorla’s story is how he came to be known as “the man who predicted 9/11,” because of a 1998 interview in which he described how a war of terror would unfold, and how traditional methods of warfare would not be sufficient to combat the enemy. The interview,“The voice of a prophet,” was eerily filmed on the 44th floor of the World Trade Center, three years before the building was leveled by terrorists.

“I accepted this plaque for our entire organization, and to keep the memory of Mr. Rescorla alive, as he was a true American patriot who gave his life helping others the day the twin towers were attacked,” Petraglia said when the Rescorla Foundation’s Jay Cytryn presented the award.

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