How the heroism of one 9/11 victim lives on
By Emily Gold Boutilier
After New York City firefighter Charles Margiotta ’79 died in the World Trade Center attacks, many searched for something concrete they could do as a tribute to his bravery. Stepping up were trustee Martin Granoff and his wife, Perry, who as Brown parents donated $1.4 million to establish the Lt. Charles Margiotta Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid to children of firefighters, police officers, and rescue workers, as well as to descendants of September 11 victims.
This fall the fund granted its first scholarship to Nora Henderson ’06, the daughter of a New York City fireman who was not at the World Trade Center when the twin towers collapsed but who spent much of the following months on the scene. “The whole fall season,” Henderson says, “he was either at work at Ground Zero or at a funeral.” She says it’s an honor to represent the children of firefighters. “I think before 9/11 people knew firemen were there, but they didn’t recognize the daily sacrifice they made,” she says. “They’re like these humble heroes.”
Although Henderson says it’s too early for her to commit to a concentration, she is considering neuroscience. But whatever profession she ends up in, she says, she’ll find a way to give back to her community—maybe by serving the fire department. “Any way I could make it a part of my life, I think I would,” she says. “A lot of people from my background don’t get the chance to go to an Ivy League school. I do have an obligation.”
If all goes well, firefighting will also be a part of Henderson’s personal life: “I’d want to marry a fireman,” she says shyly. “Obviously.”
Charles Margiotta’s legacy doesn’t end with the scholarship fund in his name. Joining Henderson at Brown this year is Margiotta’s nephew Michael Margiotta ’05, who transferred from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, after attending two Brown events honoring his uncle. He says the May service organized by Delta Tau, his uncle’s fraternity, was especially moving. “The way people spoke about the school and the fraternity and my uncle, it was really special,” he says. “I realized this was where I should be.” Margiotta says his uncle always spoke highly of his time at Brown. “I think he’s definitely happy I’m here.”
Emily Gold Boutilier