Remembering 9/11 — Robert Astorino

For Westchester County executive, Sept. 11 was one that mixed sadness and joy.

Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino (r) at Ground Zero in August 2011.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino (r) at Ground Zero in August 2011. (photo: Courtesy of Westchester County executive's office / Westchester County Executive’s Office)

For those not on the scene but who had once worked there and knew some people in the World Trade Center, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, took on added meaning  

Robert Astorino, former station manager/program director of the Catholic Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio, who now serves as Westchester County, New York, Executive, was by a television and watched the plane fly into World Trade Center.

“I remember all of a sudden crying and understating what’s happening to people in the building,” he said. “I knew people in the building.  I didn’t know their fate at the time. Some had died.

“How evil people could be to have done that. And like everybody else I was in utter shock and remember the faces of people around town. Eerily quiet.

“Then you saw the good in the world where everyone came together and put out a helping hand. The comfort Cardinal [Edward] Egan gave to New York didn’t go unnoticed, [nor] the role of a priest who died, those who were on hand to comfort and be part of the rescue efforts, all the emergency responders we lost that day.

“It was probably the worst moment in my life to witness and then became the best of moments to live through to see the good of humanity and good of people as they helped. Hopefully people found spiritually in all this. If it brings them back to Church, it’s a good thing.”

Did the tragedy affect Astorino’s spiritual path? “My spirituality and religious life has never wavered,” he said. “My wife and I had just gotten married June 25. At the very beginning of our own marriage, 9/11 happened. Shortly after, our first child was born.

“From the very beginning we learned how fragile life is. In a split second something like this changes people’s lives forever. It reinforced in me and my wife how important it is to live every day to the fullest and enjoy each other and our family and people we love.”

Clockwise from top left: Donnelly College, Thomas Aquinas College East, Wyoming Catholic College, the University of Dallas and the Augustine Institute are among the faithfully Catholic colleges that are featured in our annual ‘Catholic Identity College Guide.’

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