Photo of SBU Alum’s Father Praying Touches Hearts
Chances are you’ve probably seen this photograph, it has been published in a number of print and digital outlets. It shows a grieving father praying at the new 9/11 Memorial at the Ground Zero site. The father is Robert Peraza and the person he is praying for in the photograph is his son, Robert David Peraza, at St. Bonaventure University alum who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
ABCNews published a story about this image and its impact, noting details of Robert David Peraza’s life, including the scholarship the family created in his memory. Here is the story.
“The next thing you know my cell phone would not stop buzzing,” Neil Peraza said. “My wife said, ‘You have got to see this picture.'”
When he saw his father kneeling in front of his brother’s name, the image told him more than words ever could have.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ It was breathtaking. It kind of sums up how a lot of us were feeling,” he said. “My heart breaks for my dad and my mom — the two of them especially. As a parent now myself, I cannot imagine losing a child.”
Neil Peraza and his father are both quick to say 30-year-old Rob Peraza did not “die” on 9/11. They say he was murdered.
“It was a murderous act that happened on 9/11 and we should not forget that,” said Robert Peraza, who is now retired from his job as a systems manager at Proctor and Gamble.
Neil Peraza described his brother Rob as “the life of the party,” an outgoing, gregarious guy with an infectious laugh.
“One of the toughest parts for me, as I’ve gotten older, is he would have been a hell of an uncle,” Neil Peraza said.
He says the family still talks about Rob frequently, and Neil Peraza’s three children all know who “Uncle Rob” was.
It’s a sentiment Robert Peraza expressed during the brief time he was allowed to say a few words about his son, after reading the names of 10 others: “Dearest Robert we love you and pray for you every day. We will never forget, we will never forget, we will never forget.”
So far the family has raised about $250,000 in scholarship money for Catholic college St. Bonaventure through yearly golf tournament fundraisers and the university’s website.
Since 9/11 three incoming students from St. Bonaventure who play rugby, one of Rob Peraza’s passions, have benefited from the need-based scholarship.
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