According to Webster, "bravery" is defined as combining confidence with firm resolution in the presence of danger. "Courageous" however is more than brave! It adds a moral element. The courageous man steadily encounters perils to which he may be keenly sensitive at the call of duty. At no time do either of these definitions mention being fearless. Fearless is just the inability to recognize danger.
On September 11th, Chuck had fears…recognized them…called home…and then performed his job with Bravery and Courage; as did all our firefighters and police officers. We thank them all and love them all for being heroes every day.
I thought Chuck was a workaholic. If I told him I had 2 jobs…he would say, “What do you do with the rest of your time?” Chuck didn’t have a career…he had many careers. Along with the FDNY, private investigation and others, Chuck was also a substitute teacher working in the NYC Board of Ed. for 20 years.
They say you can’t mix business with pleasure. Chuck always found a way.
When Chuck was only 12 years old, I watched with amazement at his ability to juggle both. He went to Latourette golf course to fish for carp in one of the ponds. And I mean, literally standing in the pond. The pond was between a Tee off and a green. He would stand in the water fishing and then sell golfballs back to the golfers that didn’t clear the pond. Making money and fishing…Chuck’s perfect world.
Later in life, perhaps even surprising himself, Chuck turned into the perfect dad. His hobbies were planned around his family schedule. Soccer, softball, basketball, baseball…all came first. And not just seeing the games…oh no…Chuck coached his daughter and son in all the sports. Eventually Chuck took over as Director of basketball in this parish, St. Rita’s. His weekends were consumed with scheduling practices, games and tournaments. Through it all, Chuck still managed to plan family vacations, hunting and fishing trips with his buddies and lots of activities that would fulfill all his needs.
Chuck’s plate still wasn’t full. He lived one house away from his parents. He was a great son to his mother and father. He was the mule. Anything that involved a ladder or back breaking work was Chuck’s. Cleaning the gutters and plowing the neighborhood was his specialty. When the first snowflake fell, you knew it wouldn’t be long before you heard Chuck fire up the Toro snowplow! Then like kids looking for Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve, neighbors would run to their windows and throw up the sash. And what to their wondering eyes should appear but, Chuck with an orange hunting jump suit, smiling ear to ear.
Chuck was like a superhero to his kids. He was like a superhero to all of his family and friends. One can only imagine what he looked like through the eyes of his children, Norma Jean and Charlie. Chuck was larger than life. He was only 5’ 11”. He was not the 6 feet that he claimed he was. But when you met him, even if you looked down to him physically…you looked up to him in ways that you could not put your finger on. You left Chuck with a feeling that he was much bigger than he really was.
As tough as Chuck looked, and with as gruff a voice as he had, children always knew that he loved them. They instinctively knew he was their ally. And they were right. If he yelled at them for letting a game get a little out of hand, the children usually smiled or laughed. Then Chuck would laugh too, seeing himself in the kids.
Chuck's light shines in the eyes of his children, Norma Jean and Charlie, who look around in admiration at all the people here who loved their father. That light will shine brighter every day until it bursts like a super nova when we join him in heaven.
Chuck is up there now with all the other firefighters lost on September 11th, giving a lesson on how to grow tomatoes and zucchini. He knows he can’t be wrong because he is with Nani and Papa who taught him all about it.
He is up there having a pick up game of basketball against Jesus and the Apostles. Chuck calls his team the Underdogs. I’d like to introduce them to you now:
Starting at Forward…everyone who was too little to fight for themselves. At the other forward… everyone who in the latter years of life were stripped of their dignity and were unable to perform tasks we take for granted. At Right Guard…everyone Chuck loved that left this world before him. At left guard…everyone who ever misjudged Chuck's loyalty while on earth. And STARTING AT CENTER…a man who at only 5’11”, now stands taller than everyone because of the life he led, the traditions he held on to, the compassion he showed and the memories he left...Chuck Margiotta.