Abe worked with his friend, Ed Beyea, a quadriplegic, for 12 years at Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield. As thousands fled the World Trade Center, Abe chose to remain with Ed until help would come. He phoned us at 9:30 and said that they were OK and were waiting for a rescue team to help carry Ed down. That was the last we heard from him. Countless people have phoned and written from all over the country and all over the world -- friends, strangers, quadriplegics, parents of handicapped children -- to say how inspired they were by such an act of kindness and compassion at a time of such unspeakable evil. They touched us deeply and were a great source of comfort and consolation to the entire family. This is really a story of two heroes. Ed's story is truly inspiring. He was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident when he was 22. He needed 24-hour nursing assistance but otherwise led as normal a life as possible, taking the subway to work each day at his job as a systems analyst, using a mouthpiece to tap the keys on his computer, enjoying books, movies, TV and dinners with friends, most frequently with Abe. These two were shining examples of the goodness of mankind, beacons of hope for us all, and I wanted to share their story with you.
Evelyn Zelmanowitz, sister-in-law
Somehow, the death of Mr. Zelmanowitz is a symbol of all that America became on September 11. President Bush described Mr. Zelmanowitz's actions, staying with a paralyzed friend, as one of the true acts of heroism of that day. All of us realize that at some point, Abe must have known that he was going to die. He sent away his friend's aide when she was unable to breathe, so he must have realized what his fate would be. He made a conscious decision to remain at his friend's side -- to give up his chance of survival, in order to do what most of us, admittedly, could not do. As an American, I proudly salute him and pray that his family knows that he was as much a hero as anyone who rushed into that building to save others. May his soul know peace and may his family always know that this man is special to everyone in America. We will never forget his name or his face, or the fact that he was an incredible person. I, for one, feel that my life is richer for having known this story.