- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Boyle lost his son, and David Potorti lost his brother in the September 11 attacks. Both are in New York for the Republican National Convention, but for very different reasons.

Mr. Boyle, who lives in the New York suburbs, is here to lend support to President Bush, while Mr. Potorti wants to see him ousted from office.

Mr. Bush’s standing among the relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed on September 11, 2001, has been complicated by subsequent events, notably the war in Iraq and the report by the bipartisan September 11 commission that criticized the Clinton and Bush administrations for failing to grasp the threat posed by al Qaeda.

Mr. Boyle, whose son Michael, a New York City firefighter, died at the World Trade Center, supports Mr. Bush and the war.

“I think this guy is confronting the problem,” he said.

Mr. Potorti, whose brother James was killed in the attacks, is part of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. Made up of about 130 people who lost loved ones, the group gathered in Central Park yesterday to criticize the war. It has planned other events around the city this week.

“We have a real problem with the responses of this administration to the September 11 attacks,” said Mr. Potorti, of Cary, N.C.

Another relatives’ group, WTC Families for Proper Burial, will gather Wednesday at ground zero to call for the removal of the fine dust remains of their loved ones from a landfill in Staten Island, where tons of debris was sorted.

Diane Horning of Scotch Plains, N.J., whose son Matthew was killed, said the convention’s cleanup costs alone would be enough to pay for reburial of the dust, referred to as “the fines.”

“It’s horrifying to me to think that if they had chosen some other location, they could have used that money to bury the dead,” she said.

Republican convention planners have been tight-lipped about the specifics of their September 11 tribute. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani will speak on the opening night and cite the courage shown in the aftermath of the attacks. Some relatives of the victims have been invited to attend.

Democrats have accused the Republicans of using the tragedy for votes by holding the convention in New York and referring to the terrorist attack in campaign ads. The Democratic convention in Boston had its own September 11-themed remembrance, which didn’t sit well with Carie Lemack, whose mother died aboard American Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

The Democrats’ tribute upset her enough that she wrote a letter to the chairmen of both parties, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ed Gillespie, asking them to tone down any reference to the victims of the attacks.

“I don’t think that any images or portrayals of grief are appropriate at a political convention,” said Miss Lemack, one of the most active September 11 relatives.

“We don’t want anyone to be exploiting the grief of the families for their political gain,” she said. “The best way they can honor those who were murdered on that day is to make sure Americans are safer. You don’t do that by plastering images up on a screen; you do that by discussing the 9/11 commission recommendations.”

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