A Meaning Lost On Many

Dave LeBlanc reminds us that today isn’t about “us” but about “them.” The 343 and their friends who, on hands and knees, dug through debris to find them.

Today is September 11th, 2010. It is the nine year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. 2819 lives were lost. Of those 343 were FDNY Firemen. There is no doubt that the members of the FDNY still hold tomorrow as a day of mourning, and relive the pain and suffering of that day.

Certainly the extended family, firemen across the country and around the world also realize that September 11th is a day like no other. A day in which 343 firemen were killed, murdered. Brave men that were killed doing what all firemen do, putting their lives on the line so that others may live. There is a quote often used about firemen, “they are the ones who run in while everyone else runs out”. That is exactly what the FDNY did on September 11th, they went in.

There may never be an exact accounting of the lives saved by the FDNY nine years ago. Hundreds, thousands were saved. Firemen entered the towers and climbed. They assisted civilians to the stairs, they assisted civilians down the stairs, and they kept climbing and helping. If you ask them they’ll say they just did their jobs.

Certainly it was not lost on those that responded that day that this was a fire like no other. From chiefs like Ray Downey to company officers there was a feeling that the towers might come down and that thousands would be killed. Yet to a man they went in. They did their job as they were supposed to. 343 firemen died as heroes, thousands more are still paying the price, either physically, mentally or both.

For days and weeks, maybe months after the attacks, every fireman was considered a hero. Firehouses were flooded with food, gifts, cards and flowers. Firemen were held up as being extraordinary and special. Something none of them would ever think about themselves.

But where are we now, nine years later? Budget cuts and economic hard times have made firemen less extraordinary in some people’s eyes and easily cut from budgets to save some dollars.

Controversy looms around every corner as plans for the memorial limit how FDNY firemen will be remembered, as Congress wants to forget that they have a responsibility to those that worked at ground zero and as debate swirls about the construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site.

At the end of the day, there isn’t a fireman working for the FDNY that wouldn’t give back their “15 minutes” to have their brothers back. There probably isn’t a fireman anywhere in this Country that wouldn’t gladly remain an obscure Public Servant so that those that died nine years ago could be here today.

Hopefully today you will attend a service remembering those that died on September 11th. If you do, remember that it isn’t about you, but about those brave 343 firemen that responded and never came back. Remember it is about their victims that they couldn’t save. Today is also about the thousands that worked shoulder to shoulder looking for their brothers, suffering and exposing themselves to conditions that would lead to their own illnesses. Illnesses that Congress would eventually say were not caused by their work on the pile.

Remember what today means………………………………..to all of us.

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Backstep Firefighter

“To provide a point of critical thought about certain acts and events in the fire service while incorporating behavioral education and commentary in a referenced format.”
Comments
John Pignataro
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Bravo sir ...This battle began in the early 1990's having been a career DC Fireman for 30 yrs and a still active volunteer fireman for 37 the mentality has changed since 1977. Your article is clear and to the point but I am afraid the fire service maybe lost to the folks who preach the…
2014-08-23 01:12:28
Ben Waller
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Actually, the "Women and children first" idea cane from the sinking if the HMS Birkenhead. Now known as "The Birkenhead Drill", this stemmed from the ship beginning to sink, an inadequate number of lifeboats, and the Royal Marines and soldiers on board being called to formation and standing in ranks while the ships crew put…
2014-08-21 11:25:14
Ron Ayotte
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Bing-freaking-o!
2014-08-21 02:49:30
Brian Gary
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Very well written. I couldn't agree more with your statements. The problems are many, but they perpetuate and increase with every new class of recruits that are poisoned with the idea that anyone who feels unsafe has a responsibility to act and stop whatever is going on. When I came on, my instructors told me…
2014-08-21 02:04:23
Ric Jorge
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Atta boy David, customer service or customer satisfaction? The line is fine, and more often than not we can accomplish both with action, and a kind demeanor.
2014-08-21 01:41:12
AFTDIMage
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