Joe Valiante’s Badge, George Bush’s Library

Joe Valiante spent 35 years with the Westport Fire Department. He fought some of the town’s toughest fires, and rose through the ranks to become assistant chief.

When he was not working, the 1961 Staples High School graduate rode with New York City’s Rescue 1. Based on 43rd Street near the Intrepid, the elite company faces situations seldom seen in Westport.

But nothing could have prepared them for September 11, 2001.

The next day, Valiante rode with them to the still-smoldering World Trade Center. For a week he worked the bucket brigade, hauling material from the site.

Joe Valiante (center, in white) working at Ground Zero.

Valiante was there 4 days later, when President Bush addressed the volunteers through a bullhorn.

Valiante was back a year later too, on the 1st anniversary of 9/11. In fact, he was in the honor guard (with fellow local firefighter Todd Denke). After the ceremony, Bush stopped to chat.

Joe Valiante and George W. Bush, on the 1st anniversary of 9/11. Just before the photographer took this photo, a Secret Service agent diverted the president’s attention.

Valiante then gave the president his Westport assistant fire chief badge.

The next year, Valiante retired. From time to time, he wondered what became of his gift.

Joe Valiante’s Westport Fire Department badge.

Last January, Valiante took his grandson to Trump Tower. They watched a parade of famous people — Ben Carson, Kellyanne Conway, Senator Joe Manchin and others — head through the lobby to meet the president-elect.

Fox News correspondent John Roberts was there as well. Valiante asked if he knew what happens to the gifts people give to presidents. Roberts told him to contact the George W. Bush Presidential Library, at Southern Methodist University.

Valiante emailed the curator. Then he forgot about it.

A month ago, a library official got back to Valiante. She knew exactly where his Westport badge was.

It’s in the permanent collection.

Joe Valiante has not been down to Dallas to see it. But he doesn’t have to.

Just knowing it’s there makes him proud.

The front page of the New York Post on September 12, 2002. Joe Valiante (white hat) is in the lower right corner.


19 responses to “Joe Valiante’s Badge, George Bush’s Library

  1. Amazing story, amazing patriot, thanks Dan

  2. Pam Barkentin

    Many thanks to Joe Valiente for his courage and heroism.

  3. Bill MacNamara

    Great story about one of our own fireman from Westport and our President in a solemn moment.

  4. Frances St. Amand

    Great story about Joe Valiante, it was a very solemn time.

  5. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    On my “Must do” list is a to visit the George W. Bush Library. We live in Texas so we have visited the Lyndon Johnson and George H.W. Bush libraries and find them wonderful pieces of history. Tell Joe that when we go I’ll take a picture of the badge and post it here also. This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this piece of history with us. What a remarkable service Joe has given to Westport and to NYC. Our First Responders are truly heroes putting their lives on the line for us every day. They are ready for anything and everything. We owe Joe and all the others our gratitude.

  6. Joe Valiante…He’s done it again, Joe was born and raised here in Westport so we should all be very happy that we have such a great man living here in Westport.

  7. 123123

  8. What an amazing story! Thank you so much Joe!

  9. Great article always learning something new about my friend Joe for 20 years, but not surprising . We hang and play golf together, very competitive but a good sport. I know him to be consistently patriotic, loyal and extremely generous . Helped me through a very difficult time in my life. A true Good Samaritan ! Thanks Joe for being my friend !
    P. S. Look forward to kicking your butt in golf next time ! Gary

  10. Jonathan Poly

    So proud of Westport’s bravest, Joe Valiante represents the finest that Westport has to offer . Joe is my neabor and close friend and I’m honored to know him .

  11. Joe is an inspiration and a role model for all.
    Westport is fortunate to have such a patriot among us…we are all proud of you, Joe.

  12. This story brought tears to my eyes. Imagine that our own Joe Valiante, Westport born and bred, was not only brave enough to fight our fires for many years, but was one of the first to race down to the smoldering, sacred site of the Trade Center ruins , to rescue remains and give aid to so many. What a remarkable journey this badge has made, from Joe’s lapel to the President’s palm to a historical showcase where thousands of Americans eager to learn history will be reminded of Joe and of our town. Thank you Joe for all of your service to our community and beyond. We need a picture of you when you visit your badge in Texas.

  13. Great Story Joe ! Very proud of you ! Cousin👍

  14. Very moving story to learn of Joe Valiante, one of Westport’s finest!
    Thanks for sharing the story Dan.
    Thank you very much for your brave service
    Joe Valiante,👍🏼❗️

  15. Sheila Reardon

    Great story Joe!! Sheila Reardon

  16. Joe gave much heart, time and money to support the grief stricken FDNY, especially Rescue 1. He is to be commended and thanked. His encounter with the President and his badge ending up in the GW Bush Presidential Library is a nice little sign from God.

    Thank you, Joe!

    Father Frank McGrath

  17. Barbara Valiante

    This article brought tears to my eyes…Thank you Dan, for shedding light on this little piece of history…My brother has always been a hero in our family’s eyes…A truly selfless person…He brought our community together at a very solemn time…Westport will always be connected with NYC…We are very proud and honored …Thank you Joe for all that you do…Love, from your sisters.

  18. Joe is one of the most Patriotic Americans I have ever met.What a story,I am proud to be a friend of his.I salute you Joe for your Patriotism..

  19. Joe one of the most Patriotic and Selfless person known to us all.
    Thanks for all you do for everyone Joe. When I visit Texas I’ll most definitely
    take a picture and post it.
    Keep SHINING!