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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Comments
Ron Ayotte
What is Experience?
Excelent post. Evey day of duty and every run should be a learning experience. Far too many firefighters just look at the duty tour and incident as what I like to call "the shampoo mode"... wet hair, apply shapoo, lather, rinse and repeat".. Our version is put on the gear, get on the truck, go…
2014-10-31 14:23:15
Bill Carey
What is Experience?
You're correct Ed. What did we do with that experience? Did we take as many lessons from as we could or did we simply file it away as a run in the logbook. Thank you, Bill
2014-10-30 12:55:18
Ed
What is Experience?
Excellent post. The same question may be framed for other than working on the nozzle (e.g., if delivering pump operator training). In addition, even if you went to a lot of fires on the nozzle or as the first in company officer, what did you do with that experience? Reflection and integration of the experience…
2014-10-30 12:37:50
Bill Carey
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Thank you Ed.
2014-10-22 14:26:50
Ed Hartin
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Excellent article Bill!
2014-10-14 12:47:14
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Night at the Movies
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A REAL Emergency!
What is Experience?
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Streets: Nine and a Half D
Streets: Nine and a Half D

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