On September 11, 2001, the world was changed forever. No one will forget the terrifying images of airplanes crashing into the towers of the World Trade Center and into the United States Pentagon.
It was on that day that FCA lost a very dear friend — Al Braca.
On the morning of September 11, Jeannie Braca switched on the television to check the weather report. Instead of hearing the local forecast, however, she learned the terrible news that a plane had struck the World Trade Center.
Jeannie’s husband Al worked on the 105th floor of Tower One as a corporate bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. She hadn’t spoken to him since he had left for work that morning.
“Normally we would talk on the phone a lot — maybe five or 10 times a day. We would pray together all the time, as different situations came up,” Jeannie said.
The phone did begin to ring, but it wasn’t Al. Anxious friends and relatives were calling to see if Jeannie had heard from her husband. Many of them made their way to the Braca home to offer support. They worried that the stress would be too much for Jeannie to handle, as a previous heart attack had left only 16 percent of her heart functioning.
When the second plane hit, they turned off the television. Jeannie was, in fact, starting to feel ill and having difficulty breathing. They didn’t tell her when they heard that the towers had collapsed.
Later in the evening after Jeannie had received medical treatment, her sons broke the news about the towers. Family members held out hope that Al only had been injured. They called area hospitals, searching for him, but Jeannie said, “By the time I went to bed that night, I knew he was never coming home.”
A week later, Al’s body was found in the rubble.
As reports trickled in from friends and acquaintances, the Bracas learned that Al had been ministering to people during the attack. When he realized that they were all trapped in the building and would not be able to escape, Al shared the Gospel with a group of 50 co-workers and led them in prayer.
This came as no surprise to his family and friends who knew that Al was born with the gift of evangelism and had a tremendous heart for other people.
Former FCA National Board of Trustees Chairman Gary Cuozzo said, “Al was a bigger-than-life kind of person. He was full of joy, fun to be with, always looking to live life to the fullest. He was a great husband, a great father and a great example to other people. He loved the Lord with all his heart and mind and soul, just as the Scriptures say. He lived to serve the Lord.”
Through his friendship with FCA New Jersey Director Harry Flaherty, Al became involved in the support of the local FCA chapter, eventually serving as the chair of the local board. Jeannie says Al loved the ministry’s unique ability to reach young people with the life-changing truths of the Gospel.