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How Leaders Controlled Events In The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake And The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks In New York City

1350 words - 6 pages

During times of crisis, it is understood that leaders are expected to control the situation to the best of their ability. This could not be more evident than in the cases of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. General Frederick Funston controlled the post-earthquake San Francisco with an iron fist while implementing measures intended to control the fire engulfing the city. Almost 100 years later, Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a calming presence and helped organize emergency response teams in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. While both Funston and Giuliani exhibited shortcomings in how they handled their respective situations, the men ...view middle of the document...

But the presence of the square-jawed, silent men with magazine rifles, fixed bayonets, and with belts of cartridges restrained them. ”
While some note that Funston’s running decisions helped to restore order in a ravaged city, others argue that his emergency response measures were actually a detriment. According to Daniel Stevens Craft, “The incompetence by which they dynamite buildings causes the outbreak of four new fires. Military squads are also sent in to protect against looting, shooting as many as a hundred suspects without warning or trial. ” Some went on so far to say that Funston acted as a dictator in his decision to place San Francisco under Marshall Law without consulting Mayor Schmitz or the US Congress.
Fast forward 95 years to September 11th, 2001, and New York City finds itself facing an unimaginable crisis, much like the earthquake that destroyed San Francisco. After the World Trade Center fell, Mayor Rudy Giuliani immediately visited the site of the attack and acted quickly to implement measures intended to restore order. Like Funston, Giuliani was an intelligent and collected first responder. The mayor and his staff rerouted subways, found police escorts for food deliveries through closed tunnels , and organized an emergency operations command post for the NYPD at the police academy.
What made Giuliani an extraordinary leader were not only his intelligent decisions immediately following the disaster, but also his ability to avoid panicking during the recovery process. According to Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator and member of the 9/11 commission, “Trust me, the range of possibilities for leaders is quite extreme: Some panic, some get paralyzed. Giuliani was brave and reassuring, and you can’t subtract that from his résumé. ” During emergencies, it is important for leaders to maintain a calm demeanor in order to demonstrate that circumstances are under control (even if they are not). Unlike President George W. Bush, who did not visit Ground Zero until September 14th, Giuliani became a constant presence for all those affected. The mayor took to the airwaves to calm and reassure his people, made a few hundred rapid-fire decisions about the security and rescue operations, toured hospitals to comfort the families of the missing and made four more visits to the apocalyptic attack scene.
Ironically, some argue that his extreme involvement after the attack was more an attempt at self-promotion than a genuine desire to help. Much to the annoyance of police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders, Giuliani stated, "This is not a mayor or a governor or a President who's sitting in an ivory tower. I was at Ground Zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them. " Critics point to Giuliani’s imminent irrelevance after his mayoral campaign had 9/11 not occurred to his...

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