The Cushing community remembers and reflects on the September 11 attacks with special guest and Cushing parent, Dr. Greg Ciottone.
As the world reflected on the events of September 11, Cushing’s clock tower bells rang out at the times the four hijacked planes went down. During a moment of silence during an all-school assembly, the diverse community members had a chance to think about what those events meant to them, to their friends and families, and to their own countries. We also remembered two Cushing alumni who were lost on 9/11: Mark Bavis ’89 and Michael Uliano ’79.
Continuing on these reflections, we were very fortunate to have with us Dr. Greg Ciottone, whose daughter is a member of the freshman class. Dr. Ciottone brought a very personal perspective on the events of 9/11/2001 as commander of the first federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team into Ground Zero.
A graduate of St. Mark's School and the UMass Medical School, Dr. Ciottone is an Emergency Physician at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and has more than 20 years’ experience in academic, clinical, and global medicine.
Dr. Ciottone is an internationally recognized expert in Disaster and Emergency Medicine and has served as a consultant in more than 30 countries around the world, including Belgium, Italy, Israel, Belarus, Russia, Haiti, and Tajikistan. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he chairs the Disaster Medicine Section, and he also Directs the Division of Disaster Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess. Dr. Ciottone was Editor for the UN training module “Disaster Management for Terrorist Events,” used by the United Nations to train personnel worldwide on the preparedness for and response to terrorist attacks.
In 2002, Dr. Ciottone was selected as Medical Director for the Tactical EMS training program at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Academy in Quantico, VA., and became a Founding Member of the United States Department of Homeland Security.
During his address to students and faculty, Dr. Ciottone described his mission and first-hand experiences with the recovery efforts, as well as his reflections over a decade later. “When I heard that first building fell, I knew we were going to New York. I never imagined I’d be setting up my tents in lower Manhattan, but we were needed. And when we walked into Ground Zero that first day, I stopped dead in my tracks. As far as you could see, everything was on fire. It was unbelievable. At first I thought, ‘How can I do anything?’ But then I realized it wasn’t all on my shoulders. ‘With my team, I’m part of a machine. I can do this. We can do this.’
Many audience members were surprised when Dr. Ciottone said, “I’m not a hero – I was just doing my job. Heroes were the firefighters and police going into those buildings.” And by the end of his address, one student raised her hand, stood before the 450 others in the room, and said, “I have to disagree with you and the heroes. Everyone who helped is a hero. You are a hero.” And with that, the assembly closed with a standing ovation.
For more information on Dr. Ciottone, visit