NEW YORK -- On the morning of Sept. 12, after 45 fitful minutes of sleep as his city smoldered and its people shuddered, Rudolph Giuliani arose in the dark to await the sun.
"Somehow I had it in my head that maybe it wouldn't come up," Giuliani reflected almost a year later. "There was almost doubt that the sun would come up. And when I saw it come up, I had this great feeling of strength."
Giuliani would need every bit of it. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack that collapsed the World Trade Center, the former two-term mayor of New York City has lived a lifetime and suffered a hundred deaths.
A lame-duck mayor at the end of his term that September morning, he rose from the twisted steel and concrete of ground zero to become an international icon of New York's moxie in the face of terrorism.
He's opened his own consulting and investment business, earning millions of dollars as a speaker and consultant. Queen Elizabeth named him an honorary knight (although Giuliani joked that he's kept that a secret from residents of his native Brooklyn).
He was called "America's mayor" by Oprah Winfrey, and named "Man of the Year" by Time magazine. His future -- including a possible return to politics, perhaps on a national scale -- seems almost unlimited.
But each high was balanced by a low. Giuliani buried close friends killed by the terrorists, including the firefighter husband of his pregnant personal assistant and Fire Chaplain Mychal Judge.
He attended scores of funerals -- the Fire Department alone had 148 in the six months after Sept. 11. He endured a very public, ugly and expensive divorce with his wife of 20 years.
Yet Giuliani, now 58, appeared content and relaxed as he answered questions about the last year. Flanked by his Giuliani Associates colleagues, former police commissioner Bernard Kerik and former fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen, Giuliani fielded questions on everything from his political future to the likelihood of another attack.
"We all have to assume that we're going to be attacked again," Giuliani said bluntly. "If we don't assume that, we're irresponsible. We have to pray it doesn't happen, we have to hope it doesn't happen, but we have to assume that it will."
And a return to public life?
"At some point that's something I'd think about, and I don't rule it out of my future," Giuliani said. "I don't know when that would be. I don't have a time period."
Not that Giuliani has sworn off politics. He's campaigned for fellow Republicans Bill Simon in the California governor's race, U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina and Gov. George Pataki in New York.
Asked about Sept. 11, when he wound up running for his life through lower Manhattan, Giuliani recalled "a day of tremendous contradiction" -- horror and heroism, destruction and defiance, unspeakable and unforgettable.
"Sept. 11 was the worst day in the history of this city and this country," said Giuliani, a U.S. flag pin on the lapel of his blue suit. "But it was also the greatest day."
Giuliani, as he first proposed in his final days at City Hall, expressed hope that the mass graveyard at ground zero would become a memorial with "a library, a museum, a beautiful contribution to the skyline."
While others have pushed for the reconstruction of the lucrative office space destroyed on Sept. 11, Giuliani believes there are other places in the city for commercial development.
"There are a lot of other places to build office towers," Giuliani said. "There is no other place to build the memorial I just described."
Though he spent eight years in City Hall, Giuliani finds it too painful to visit lower Manhattan these days. Still, barely a week before the first anniversary, Giuliani took his daughter Caroline to a movie theater in Battery Park.
The pair took in the latest Al Pacino film, "Simone," and strolled over to ground zero.
"It's impossible to go down there without having your memory flooded," Giuliani said. "It's hard to drive those blocks without remembering."
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