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Accepting challenge

Updated on June 27, 2010

Accepting challenge for the ones we love

 As I think back to the early years of my life I realize that I had been very fortunate in that I grew up in a family where we always felt love and acceptance. It was during my childhood that I learned a lot about faith, courage and determination. My parents were very kind, caring and devoted parents and I learned so much from them. My mom was a very special and caring mother who always made me feel better by just hearing her voice as she spoke to me about childhood and growing up. She discussed with me the many valuable lessons about life and she always made me look at the positive side of things knowing that there would be happy times and sad times which was a natural part of life. I have many fond memories of her reading to me at night as a young boy and she always made me feel safe and protected.

My dad also was a very loving and caring father who taught me many things in life and the one thing I realize about my dad was that he had a tremendous work ethic and he always gave his all in everything he did. He was a very dedicated ironworker who took great pride in all he did. He truly was an inspiration and when I think back to all the jobs he worked on and was a part of  I am truly amazed. Every time I drive over the Verrazano bridge I think of my dad who was one of the many ironworkers who worked long days and many years in building one of the greatest bridges that links Brooklyn to Staten Island enabling driving across to New Jersey. I am so very proud of my dad and try to approach life with the same intensity and courage as my dad did. I know my dad had a tough life and he faced several tragedies in his business seeing some of his fellow ironworkers who he worked with fall to their death on various projects. My dad recalled one story where he was working on the Verrazano bridge in the early 1960's and he and a fellow ironworker were chatting on the top of the roadway of the bridge before they went about their business of starting their workday. As my dad proceeded with his task of working on the cables of the bridge he heard faint screams of his name being called and he turned in the direction of the screams and looked with horror as he saw the man he was just talking with minutes before desperately trying to hold on to the bridge as he had lost his balance and slipped. My dad immediately stopped what he was doing and ran over to assist his fellow ironworker but he had 2 things working against him. My dad was 5'7" weighing 130 lbs and his coworker was 6'3" weighing over 200lbs. My dad also lost part of his hand in a work related accident 7 months earlier so he did not have the same grip he once had. My dad tried with all his might to bring his fellow ironworker up but he could not hold the weight and he felt the man slipping through his hands and he shouted "Dear God, Please help!" and then he saw him fall to his death. My dad would have went over too if it wasn't for the quick actions taken by another fellow ironworker who jumped on top of him keeping him in place on the catwalk and protecting him. My dad always carried this with him and it was a very painful episode in his life which was one of many he would encounter through the years and it took its toll on him.

My dad never let the dangers of his work affect him in raising his family. He was very devoted to mom, my sisters and I and he always made us feel safe despite the dangers of his job. I do however remember as a young boy praying for my dad's safety everyday. I know my mom always worried about dad each and everyday he went to work because of the very nature of his business. 

I learned a lot from my dad's dedication, courage, devotion and pride. He was truly a special man who was very humble and always put in a hard day's work and also gave us the nurturing and attention we needed as young children with mom's continual involvement. My parents both loved each other and they always made sure we were always taken care of and felt safe.

I realize my parents both faced many challenges and they handled them with tremendous courage and faith and it was all for us. They gave all they had to make our lives better and I am also very grateful and thankful. 

I am the father of a special needs child and I also know the many challenges our son will encounter and my wife and I are always working to help him and provide him with all the love, encouragement and devotion that he needs which I learned from my parents as a young boy. 

I was very happy my son got to meet my dad and spend a good part of his early childhood getting to know him. I feel sad that my son never got to see my mom but I always told him how special she was to all of us. It was my dad who always treated Matthew as any other kid. He didn't treat him special or have him feel different. He wanted to bring the little boy out of him and he sat with him on many occasions building Lego skyscrapers and lego neighborhoods and talking with him about life and they always enjoyed each other's company. We were very fortunate that they both got to know each other and have an impact on each other.

As I see my son grow I am always concerned for his future and we take one day at a time and work as a team to help build our son's confidence and help him develop socially so he can experience friendship, interaction and face the challengs of life that we all have to face in our own life and we do it for all the ones we love. I love my wife and son and would do my very best to make their lives better as my parents did for me.

Edward D. Iannielli III



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