Today is September 11, 2010 and I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard the phrase “never forget”. Today, the History Channel has played 9-11-2001 footage all day. Today, the United States Flag was flown at half mast all across the country. I’ve even gotten a few “thumbs up” from citizens while out on runs today. As I often do, today we stopped by our Fallen Firefighter Memorial here in the city. I was glad to see that someone else had visited the site today and even had the thought to leave flowers
It’s been 9 years and today, it seems some folks are picking the banner back up. I say “back up” because I’m not so sure everyone “remembers” any other time. Let me explain..or at least try to a little. As a firefighter, I (we) have NEVER FORGOTTEN. Personally, I think of that tragic morning EVERYDAY I report for duty. EVERYDAY! I have a 9-11 book on the night stand by my bed. On the window sill, I have a photo of me marching in the 2002 St. Patty’s Day Parade with my friends / brothers from FDNY 39/16. My turnout coat carries a patch that reads FDNY.. Fallen Heros. I see these items every morning and reflect on that day and why I’m here. EVERY morning.. not just on it’s anniversary.
In the days following 9-11-01 firefighters were praised all across the country. People began to recognize our job and the sacrifices we face and make on a daily basis. Everybody wanted to shake our hand. They stopped to give hugs and tell us how much we are appreciated. They almost began to understand that it’s firefighters (Firefighters, EMS workers and Police Officers) who are first in on the “front lines”. Well, maybe they did understand it at the time but I’m afraid that now, once again; they’ve forgotten. Today, we are back to budget cuts. Departments and individual companies running short staffed. Companies closing, members being laid off. Hell, in Detroit; 4 of the 6 injured brothers were transported in Fire trucks! Firemen critically injured while fighting a fire had to be transported in Engines because the city didn’t have enough ambulances in service! IT’S A DISGRACE! There are a ton of GREAT post out here today. Dave Statter has a good list of em here. He and The Fire Critic have a video from Bobby Halton of Fire Engineering. In that video, Chief Halton said that he knew some of us are still mad. Well, I’m one of em and I’m not sure that I will ever get over it. Virginia has a license plate that says “fight terrorism” but are we??
Companies are spending millions to find / build the latest and greatest “iphone” or the next “gotta have” application for your whatever gadget. Professional sports players (golf, football, Nascar drivers etc) are getting paid MILLIONS to play games yet we can’t find Bin Laden and firehouses are being closed all across the country. A preacher in Florida says he’s going to burn the Koran and not only does it make National news, the White House has even gotten involved. I don’t recall hearing of calls from the White House whenever someone burned the U.S. Flag in protest! We’re going to allow a Mosque to be built down the street / near Ground Zero? We are worried about someone Else’s “feelings” but what about ours? People think and argue for the names of the 19 murderers (hijackers) to be listed on memorials and included in the final death toll (which continues to grow by the way)! I think maybe they HAVE forgotten. Spending the day to myself in quiet reflection I often recall the interview with FDNY Captain Jonas. He told his guys “they’re trying to kill us”. They talked about the possibility of not making it out, shook hands and wished each other luck. THEN THEY WENT IN! They went up! I can’t tell you how proud that makes me feel to be a firefighter. That’s who we are. From the smallest VFD to the largest departments, there are brothers and sisters pulling a tour. The next job could be our last. The next 9-11 could happen any moment but I and we are here and ready to “go in”. So no, I haven’t forgotten and never will. I’ll remember the day September 11, 2001, the times 09:59 and 10:28 and the number 343.