September 11, 2006

Remembering Alexander Ortiz, and all the victims of 9/11

A son, a brother, a father, and a hero to the end.

It is my honor to remember and celebrate the life of Alexander Ortiz, aged 36, who was murdered on September 11, 2001, in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center.

Alex was from Ridgewood, New Jersey. He worked as a contract security guard for Empire Blue Cross, and he was on duty that bright clear September morning.

Many people have bore witness that Alex was a true hero as he stayed behind to help many people to escape certain death. He could have escaped. He stayed to help others. He didn't make it himself.

Alex Ortiz didn't ask to die – and neither did the 2,995 other people who were so cruelly taken from their loved ones on a day we must always remember.

They all had lives to lead. Loved ones to cherish. Families to raise. Grandkids to visit. Games to play. Friends to make. Children to love. Jobs to do. Beauty to contemplate. They were you and they were me.

And as long as you and I remember, they will live forever.

God bless Alexander Ortiz, and all the WTC victims who died with him on September 11, 2001.

Alex gave his own life in that most noble cause: helping his fellow man in their hour of need, including friend and work colleague Lydia Sanchez.

“Alex was the sweetest guy I'd ever met. It was a pleasure having worked with him. He treated everyone equally with much love and respect. I will always remember Alex as a hero. He helped many people get out of the building, including my mom and myself. That day, my mom asked him to come out with us and he said, "I can't, just keep running and please don't look back.

He was anxious to help everyone exit the building and never thought about himself. I miss Alex dearly. It's impossible for me to believe that he did not make it even though he had the chance to. Alex will always be in my heart, he will always be my hero. May god bless him and his loved ones. May he rest in peace where ever he is."

Jose Ruiz of Corona, NY remembers his friend Alex Ortiz with great affection:
“I was privileged to work with Alex at Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. Alex stood side by side with police and fireman that day guiding thousands to their safety. That's a testament of the kind of man he was. Alex will be missed by all who were associated with him.”
Family, Friends, Colleagues, and total strangers will never forget Alex Ortiz.

Jennifer Soles remembers Alex as a personal hero to her...
“I wanted to tell the family of Alexander Ortiz that he is a hero. My husband Erick worked in Tower 1 for Empire BCBS. He says he always had a kind word for everyone who worked there. He said Alex showed him and many others the way out on 9-11. God Bless him.

He will always be remembered in our family. I am grateful to him to helping my husband get out. We now have a beautiful baby daughter that wouldn't be here if my husband had not made it out. He is in our thoughts and prayers. God Bless.”
His former wife, Lourdes Dominguez remembers a touching personal memory of Alex and the time they spent together on their first wedding anniversary in 1995.
“He was very romantic . He sent me to a spa in the city, and when I came home, he had dinner waiting for me. There were flowers and candles everywhere."
Then she recalls how she heard of Alex that awful day:

"People called me and told me they saw Alex going back in and helping people," she said. "Someone said they saw him help a man who was badly burned get out of the building."
Work colleague Shirley Rodriguez, who worked for Empire Blue Cross on the 27th floor in Tower One, said,

"He was directing people out. He was telling them not to look back. To keep going."
Even after Alex assisted people trying to escape, he remained in revolving doors to make sure that people stayed clear of them in case of falling debris, his ex-wife said.
"He was the type of person that liked to help everybody,"
The two had a son together, Alexander Jr., in 1996. Lourdes poignantly remembered that:

"His son was everything to him. His life was his son."
Alex last saw his ex-wife and his son on September 2, when he came to Lourde's Coram home to drop off Alex Jr. after his weekend visit.

Elizabeth Ortiz of New York, NY remembers her beloved soul mate Alex:
“You were a great boyfriend, lover and companion. Our time together was brief but I will always cherish the memories we had together. You will always be in my heart and mind.”
Marian was a work colleague. She remembers Alex:
“I worked with Alex at EBCBS. He always had a smile for everyone and knew our names. Anytime I needed something I could count on Alex to help me out. He is a STAR and is still looking over all his love ones. God bless you all.“
Alex’s aunt, Kathy Gilday Ortiz , Brooklyn, NY:
“You will always be remembered in my heart and prayers. Love you forever and may god be with you and your family.“
Brenda Ortiz (New York, NY) remembers Alex:
“Heaven must have needed angels and sent for Alex. I know that he is watching over all of us who love and miss him so much. Though I would have given my right arm to see him again, I know he is in a better place. He deserves it.
We who knew him were very fortunate.
We miss you Alex.
Good bye my sweet friend.
GOD bless and keep you.”
Edda Valero of New York, NY remembers Alex fondly:

“Alex was the best person I ever meet. He always made me laugh with his jokes when he passed by my desk. He was a very sweet person. Now he is one of God's Angel and I want to tell him that I miss him and well see each other again when I become one of God's Angel. Miss Ya. Love Ya.“
Beatrice Martin, (Lexington, KY), remembers her cousin Alex through the tears of a heartfelt loss:
“I have so many times read and re- read the writing of so many in memory of my dear Alex. I have tried many times to respond to all the wonderful things that have been said since that tragic day. I have never been able to put the words down, maybe because the wound was too fresh.

Alex was born into our large family as my cousin but through God's way we were raised as brother and sister. I will never forget all those crazy games we played as children often do, and all the wonderful words of encouragement he always seemed to have when I was going through some rough time in my life. Alex was a very loving and generous person always giving words of a positive nature during times of sorrow.

There is no way to put into words the LOVE I have and will always have for my big brother. Alex gave his life to save others and for that he will be a hero to many. For me Alex has and will forever be my hero. I would like to be able to say things have gotten easier with time but the wound stays fresh with every day that has passed.

I go through my daily routine and feel the emptiness in my heart, and longing to hear that cheerful voice. I know one day we will be together again and for know I can only say Thank You for the time I got to spend with my big brother and I LOVE YOU ALEX!!!
Joseph Martire of Queens , NY remembers Alex helping him:

“Alex, thank you for directing me out of the building that day. I'll never forget that day as long as I live nor will I ever forget you. You were so calm and confident as it was just another ordinary day. I never forget everyday when we would talk sports and other topics with the guys. Whenever I think of a hero, you will always come to my mind. GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!!”
Bryan Hernandez of Queens, NY also remembers his cousin Alex.
“Alex was more than just family he was a good friend a great cousin to have who would lighe up the whole day with one smile the way we would joke around and talk with me about how crazy my father we would laugh for hours the way he would be there for you with out thinking twice...

I miss you a lot but you’re in a better place now making sure we are all still smiling I will never for get you god bless you."
Alex Ortiz touched the lives and hearts of so many people, it is impossible for me to do justice to the man in this short tribute..

All we can do is make sure we do not forget the life of Alexander Ortiz, and the 2995 other souls so wickedly and cruelly taken that day.

"Those who lose their life for my sake will find it." Matthew 16:25"