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Officer Uhuru Gonja Houston


Officer Houston's Act of Heroism

Over 400 first responders lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Heroically performing their sworn duty, these firefighters, members of the NYPD and PAPD, and numerous other rescue workers will forever be remembered for their sacrifice.

My Hero

Although just 5-foot-6, Uhuru Gonja Houston, thickset and with a confident stride, could be mistaken for a tough, no-nonsense type in his Port Authority police officer's uniform. He didn't look like someone with a fine eye for window treatments; he didn't appear emotional. But Officer Houston, a genial, affectionate fellow, had an artistic streak and could be unashamedly emotional. After taking his son, Hasani, 5, to his first day of school on Sept. 6, he lingered outside the classroom, watching through the window, teary-eyed.

Officer Houston, 32, was determined to make a better life for his wife, Sonya, their son and their daughter, Hannah, 20 months. He had grown up in the projects of Canarsie, Brooklyn, sewing clothes and cutting hair as a teenager to earn money. As an adult he was thrifty, and proudly moved his family to a home in Englewood, N.J. (and made the curtains). Life was sweet: while walking his beat at the World Trade Center, he would chat on the phone with Sonya about a whole lot of nothing. Every day off was "family day," and off they would go.

On Aug. 28 they went to Bear Mountain. As he drove, he held Sonya's hand and remarked, "You know, I'm a good guy, and I'm doing all right."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on June 30, 2002.
Information courtesy of the Remember 9/11/2001 memorial site on


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