9-11: What Does It Mean To You?

This particular brotherhood is an exclusive group.


For the last several weeks, and for the next several days, you will see hundreds of thousands of Facebook posts, blog posts, news articles and tweets about September 11th. Everyone has memories associated with that day, and the days that followed.

There is no doubt that the impact of September 11th goes well beyond any single person, or fire company, or firehouse, or city, or state. The original attack may have been on New York City and the Pentagon, but those events; plus the failed hijacking that ended in Pennsylvania, united a country and bonded us in a common cause. September 11th, like a rock thrown into the middle of a smooth pond, has caused ripples that have gone on to affect all of us.

When you really sit down and think about it, it is almost too much to comprehend. In these last few days I have seen news articles and video of ground zero that have made me realize how little of that day I actually understand. The fire service has taken ownership of that day on some levels. There is a strong bond nationwide and internationally that stems from the sheer number of Brothers that were lost that day. 343 brothers; never before had so many firemen been killed at one time and it isnt until you actually try to break that down and under it that it becomes too big to wrap your head around.

But for me it has always been about the brothers. The personal connections from those that worked shoulder to shoulder with those that are no longer with us. It is about those brothers that know they were at the mercy of the chart as to whether or not they responded, and those that often say they would trade place with those that are lost.

September 11th is about those brothers that in the days and months that followed spent hundreds of hours looking for their brothers. They came to work and stared blankly at the lockers of their friends, knowing that those lost would never come back, but also knowing that not finding them was far too much of a burden to bear.

Imagine those fireman, that on September 10th were convinced they had the best job in the world, and on September 12th had to return to a firehouse and face the memories of all those lost. Those memories, that were forged in the blood, sweat and tears of one of the most hazardous and rewarding professions.

Now imagine those same brothers, after spending hundreds of hours on the pile, fighting a battle for their own lives. Fighting cancer and respiratory issues, fighting to have the government recognize that that fateful day made them sick.
Through no choice of their own, our brothers in the FDNY become synonymous with September 11th. Their efforts on that day saved thousands, their sacrifice inspired millions, and their commitment to their brothers is without equal.

So when you ask me what that day is about, I say it is about them.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Whittington/FITHP.net

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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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