Ray Cook: Remembering the sacrifices of Mohawk iron workers

Mohawk iron workers Alan Delaronde, Doc Alfred and Art Oakes on the 110th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City about 1970. Photo from Smithsonian Institution

Ray Cook, the opinions editor at Indian Country Today, pays tribute to the late Brad Bonaparte, Eric Sunday and other Mohawk iron workers who joined search and rescue missions in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks:
I—we—cannot forget the dozens of Union Iron Workers who left their jobs in New Jersey and Manhattan to help search and make way for searchers in all that tangled steel, cement, wires and rebar. And, the toxic dust.

For me, two Mohawk iron workers come to mind, two Mohawk iron workers who answered the call to search and rescue. These two were part of dozens of iron workers who went to help, most from Union Locals 440 and 361. One is my brother-in-law and the other was a brother, a friend to the end: Eric Sunday and Brad Bonaparte. Exceptional men in their own right.

Eric, a man among men. A fighter, a hard worker and a respected man who overcame many of life’s challenges.

Brad was a man of reason and observation. Brad was an artist first. His iron-working skills reflected that. His eye for detail made him a man to hire and trust. His love of life, and family was a driving force in his life. He did not fear much; he, too, was respected; he was resolved in his understanding and love of the culture in which he was raised.

Like Eric, Brad had a distinct love for his extended family and the Nation of Mohawks. I met Brad during the time he was searching for survivors. He showed up at a Native American Music Association sponsored Blues Fest in Tribeca that I helped organize. We had a good time that night.

Get the Story:
Ray Cook: 9/11: A Prayer for Peace or Commitment to War? (Indian Country Today 9/18)

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