The Washington Post

Paul Wong
Two firefighters embrace yesterday on the scene of rescue efforts near the site where the 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed Tuesday. Rescuers had recovered 184 bodies from the ruins as of yesterday.<br><br>SAM HOLLENSHEAD/Daily

NEW YORK This, New Yorkers have been saying almost since the first frightening fireball appeared on their television screens, has been Rudy Giuliani”s finest hour.

The wartime analogy feels apt. The mayor this week has offered a grittier, Flatbush-flavored version of FDR”s fireside chats. He”s been operations manager and pastor, diversity-training counselor and dauntless cheerleader, a normally contentious figure suddenly turned symbol of the city”s unity. He”s been Winston Churchill in a Yankees cap.

“I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country and the rest of the world that terrorism can”t stop us,”” he said on the first day, having scrambled out of a downtown building where he himself was trapped for several minutes after the first of the Twin Towers dissolved.

“Everything is safe right now in the city,”” he assured them, and he urged residents to go about their normal routines.

He”s kept up the exhortations, suggesting by Day 2 that New Yorkers go shopping and visit restaurants, “do things that show you”re not afraid.” They have begun to, tentatively. Giuliani”s omnipresence has been a significant factor-a political cartoon in yesterday”s Newsday depicted the 57-year-old Republican looming gravely over the smoking hulks of the World Trade Center, a single tear drawn on his left cheek.

The mayor”s everywhere, all the time, it seems visiting Ground Zero numerous times with his new accessories, a white mask and a hard hat going to hospitals phoning news radio stations giving multiple press briefings from his command center in an “undisclosed location.” Wednesday night he gave a briefing in an FDNY cap and an EMS windbreaker, a tribute to the city”s firefighters, who”ve taken catastrophically heavy losses, and emergency medical workers. yesterday morning, having reverted to a political gray suit and tie, he was on the early news. He”s looked tired, has on occasion grown emotional, but he hasn”t allowed more than a few hours to pass without reminding the city that someone was at the helm.

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