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BRITISH BESTOW WELL-EARNED HONOR ON NYC MAYOR, FIRE , POLICE

Rudolph Giuliani may not be able to serve a third term or even a three-month extension as mayor of New York City, but the British gave him something that should be the envy of every American politician: honorary knighthood.

The city's police commissioner and its fire commissioner received the slightly less important honor of being called Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

On one level the awards are the British way of saluting the many thousands of New York firefighters, police officers and construction workers for their sacrifices in the World Trade Center tragedy. But on another level these awards also honor the individuals. The fire commissioner in particular had to perform through tears, as his was a field promotion. He lost hundreds of his friends who stormed into the burning building.

Giuliani already was a man of great accomplishment. . . . But this last month, Giuliani was at his finest. . . . He has been everywhere, attending funerals, giving politicians tours and holding together spiritually a city devastated by an unimaginable horror. He gave an example in leadership in the face of adversity - of showing what the British call a stiff upper lip.

Technically, the honorary knighthood does not carry with it the right to be called Sir, but if any American politician should be called Sir, it is Rudolph Giuliani.

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