In the wake of the tragic events of Septe.ber 11, last year Pride in Port honored The Port Washington Fire Department with the event's tradition of renaming Main Street in the honorees' name during Pride in Port week. This year, as we are still in deep mourning as a nation, the committee decided to honor a 35-year-old Port Washington Port Authority Police Officer, Antonio Rodrigues, whose young life was sadly cut short. He was last seen in the basement of the World Trade Center just before the towers collapsed on that day that has had such a profound affect on our way of life. His supervisors told his widow, Cristina, that he had gone downstairs to the basement to pick up oxygen tanks.
Her husband was normally stationed at the Port Authority bus terminal by Times Square, she noted. But when the planes struck, he and 14 other officers were sent downtown.
Of the many tributes made to Antonio Rodrigues since his untimely death, perhaps Cristina made the most poignant one. She told us, with elegant simplicity, that Antonio was "an amazingly great person and wonderful husband and father ... before September 11." Antonio also leaves their two children, Sara, age 7, and Adam, who is 4.
In addition to his warm and rich personal life, Antonio Rodrigues had many other facets to his personality. At age 11, before immigrating with his family to America, he had several exhibits of his landscapes in his native Portugal. He was also educated as an aeronautical engineer, however work was difficult for him to find here in his profession.
As he liked to work with people, he decided to join the New York City Police Department about six years ago as a transit worker. Two years ago, he became a Port Authority law enforcement officer.
Cristina notes, "Antonio was very social and very kind. He would help anybody."
Local best-selling author Susan Isaacs once wrote of Port Washington, "It's a town of nice guys." We certainly lost one of them on September 11, 2001, when Officer Rodrigues perished.