From Police Heroes, a book by author Chuck Whitlock:
In the basement plaza of the World Trade Center on September 11th, three Port Authority patrolmen greeted each other. Uhuru Houston and Edward Finnegan, who were working in plain clothes, came over to greet Robert Vargas. Vargas had known Houston for seven years but hadn’t seen Finnegan in four years. After a hurried greeting, Vargas watched Officer Houston run up into one of the towers. It would be the last time he saw Houston.
Houston grew up in Brooklyn with his three sisters, one of whom is a police officer. After working in the business world, Houston joined the Port Authority Police Department in 1993 and worked at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He was assigned to the World Trade Center in 1999.
Houston, forty-four, met his wife, Sonya, while they were attending Norfolk State University in Virginia. They married in 1996 and have two children, Hasani and Hannah. On September 11, Uhuru, or “Bee” as he was often called, told Sonya in a phone conversation just after the first plane hit the North Tower, “Whatever you do, don’t come down here.”
Portraits of Grief, The New York Times
Officer With Artistic Streak
Although just 5-foot-6, Uhuru Gonja Houston, thickset and with a confident stride, could be mistaken for a tough, no-nonsense type in his Port Authority police officer’s uniform. He didn’t look like someone with a fine eye for window treatments; he didn’t appear emotional. But Officer Houston , a genial, affectionate fellow, had an artistic streak and could be unashamedly emotional. After taking his son, Hasani, 5, to his first day of school on Sept. 6, he lingered outside the classroom, watching through the window, teary-eyed.
Officer Houston, 32, was determined to make a better life for his wife, Sonya, their son and their daughter, Hannah, 20 months. He had grown up in the projects of Canarsie, Brooklyn, sewing clothes and cutting hair as a teenager to earn money. As an adult he was thrifty, and proudly moved his family to a home in Englewood, N.J. (and made the curtains). Life was sweet: while walking his beat at the World Trade Center, he would chat on the phone with Sonya about a whole lot of nothing. Every day off was “family day,” and off they would go.
On Aug. 28 they went to Bear Mountain. As he drove, he held Sonya’s hand and remarked, “You know, I’m a good guy, and I’m doing all right.”