Those of you who follow my ramblings regularly know that Rhett and I just got back from another trip up to New York City. It was an AWESOME trip! I say that, yet every single trip that we have taken this year has made an impact on who we are and what we do.
We get a lot of “flack” around home here. Some folks just don’t “get it”. We hear the whispers of how we think we are “too big for our britches” or that we have a “me, me , me” attitude. Either of these couldn’t be farther from the truth. Those of you who know us (and the work we do) understand. It’s a shame that those with whom we work the closest are the one who haven’t a clue.
You will very seldom see Rhett and I away from town (and our families) that we’re not working in some way, shape or form for the betterment of the Fire Service. We don’t always say exactly WHY we are going here or there, nor do we give a lot of details about what was actually accomplished. It’s NOT about us … it’s about the other “us” .. ALL of us …the Fire Service.
We don’t do it for the honor or glory. We damn sure don’t do it for the pay. We do it because we’re fireman .. it’s what we know ..what we do. BROTHERHOOD, HONOR, PRIDE, TRADITION and RESPECT .
Our latest trip to NYC forced me to make a difficult decision. Several years back, Rhett and I decided to honor or Department’s retirees by hosting a breakfast at out Union Hall. Our retirees have been meeting for years at a local restaurant on the first Tuesday of each month but that meal was out of their own pockest. We came up with the idea to buy em breakfast and while we were at it, decided to prepare and serve it ourselves. Our way of giving back a little something to the men who had built the Department we all wanted so badly to work for. It was a HUGE hit and we’ve been doing them sporadically since.
For whatever reason, most folks have thought of me as being “in charge” of these breakfasts. I’m not. It just started out as our idea and we ended up being the ones who would show up at 6am and cook. ANYWAY, we had decided to have another one on December 13th, sent out invitations and made arrangements. That’s when we were asked to go to NYC.
Long story short, I passed the cooking duties etc over to another C-shift Brother. He had a majority of the food donated and brought in his big gas cooker. Plenty of help arrived, 80-100 retirees showed up and the event was another success! Thanks to all the members who made it happen.
I shouldn’t have to explain why I wasn’t in attendance at the breakfast. Rest assured, I was working on behalf of current and future retirees as well as for our Brothers who have fallen in the line of duty. I know that every retiree in attendance that morning will understand where I was and why I was there and their opinions are all that matter to me!
So, Rhett and I were in New York City. I posted on the trip HERE but didn’t give a lot of detail. Allow me to now ….
We were on the road early and headed straight to the Bronx. Brother firefighter and good friend Nate DeMarse works at Engine 68 / Ladder 49 ( The House on the Hill ) just up the street from Yankee Stadium.
Nate knew we were coming up and invited us to drop in for a visit. We didn’t want to leave!
Nate gave us a first rate tour! The Brothers and sisters of the FDNY are overrun with visitors and I’m sure that being so close to Yankee Stadium makes 68/49 a popular destination. I’d dare say not many folks get the tour we did.
Not just the tour … the stories as well. It’s funny how a Department as big as the FDNY is so similar to one as small as ours. The stories are always the same (no matter where we go) … there are just different names associated. Everything for members not covering a shift (the “mailman” story) to cuts in staffing (loosing their “door man”). I didn’t get to thank Nate enough in my first post and wanted make sure he knows how much we enjoyed and appreciated the visit/tour…. THANKS BROTHER !
I’m not sure any of the pictures do it justice. These two doors opened up to an unbelievable view of Ground Zero.
To see the site at night left me in awe. From our 17th floor vantage, we were looking into the Reflection Polls with the Freedom Tower / 1 World Trade Center rising just behind.
What you also must understand is that “this” was the place Rhett and I have been traveling to all this time. We knew the direction we were headed but not the destination. We had arrived without even knowing until we pulled that curtain back.
The trip would get even better. Oren Bersagel-Briese, Scott Eckels, Josh Smith, Brian Bush and Shawn Dunston were also there. These are a few of the Brothers who actually started the idea of 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs!
Rhett and I had participated in 3 Climbs this year ( Baltimore, Atlanta and Maryland) and here we were in New York City, AT GROUND ZERO; with these guys.
Understandably, New York City has yet to host a 9/11 Memorial Climb. That said, there was NO WAY that this group was going to be that close to where 343 of our Brothers were murdered and not pay homage. Official or unofficial, we were going to climb.
AND CLIMB WE DID!! 110 stories at 6am in honor and memory of our fallen Brothers! There were a lot of tears shed in that stairwell and many more just 35 minutes later, having completed our climb; while standing on the roof top looking over Ground Zero. I’m crying now, just thinking about it.
Why me? Why was I given this opportunity? If you don’t understand how much of an HONOR it was for me to have made THAT climb, with THOSE men at THAT site then I know I can never explain it to you.
I hope that each and every one of you on the job will participate in a Memorial Climb sometime in your career.
This is no HERO RUSH or TOUGH MUDDER … These climbs are so much more than an “obstacle course” … THEY ARE A TRIBUTE … and they’re harder. It’s without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is also one of the most rewarding. Learn more about the climbs and schedule one in your city for 2012 by clicking HERE .
Rhett and I also had the honor of meeting (and having dinner with) FDNY’s Commissioner Salvatore Cassano as well as Chief of Department Edward Kilduff. There were also several members of their “Counseling Unit” at this dinner. Another UNBELIEVABLE experience! To sit across from and talk face to face with the folks who provided the services with in part enabled the FDNY to rebuild was once again awe inspiring.
The Commissioner showed his “true colors” the following day. We were at a meeting with the NFFF on Randall’s Island (The Rock) and he showed up. This is the COMMISSIONER of the FDNY … he has to have a full schedule. He could have sent “someone” but he choose to take the time out of his day to personally address our group again.
He also gave us a Challenge Coin … PERSONALLY (Rhett and I had given him one of our “Brotherhood Chips” at Dinner the previous evening).
HOW COOL IS THAT????
Take all the “politics” out … The Commissioner banked mega points with me through his actions. Actually, he was pretty cool.
We pulled up to the curb at the front door to unload and was deciding where (looking for a place) to park. The Commissioner says … leave it there. I asked if he though it’d be ok there.. or maybe in the way. He says that if anybody says anything … tell em he said it was ok and to call him if there was ANY problem with that!
Oh yea baby… one look at the “Blog Mobile” and he KNEW we were REPRESENTING!
LOL … all kidding aside, this was another huge honor .. to meet and interact with the Commissioner of the FDNY.
So, the point of this post was to maybe give a little more insight to our most recent trip. Believe me folks …when we are on the road, we have you in mind. We hope that if even in a small way, we are making a difference (we think that we are).
As rewarding as these trips are, the best part about them is returning home. The job has us away from our families enough so these trips just add to that time apart. I was glad to get back to my girls (wife and 2 adult daughters) and the Buckaroo. Me and him had some catching up on the farm to do and I captured a small part of it on video.
Everybody seems to enjoy the Buckaroo videos and one of his most popular of late was of him pushing a round bale out to feed. See that video in a previous post HERE . Captain Lynn Flora from Lucky #13 A-shift LOVED it so I figured I capture a little more footage of him feeding…. this time from the tractor… driving! LOL … enjoy
OK..that’s gonna wrap it up for today … what? HUH?? Ohhh…Yeaaaa. Santa’s Sexy Helper … I almost forgot. LOL
Last year, we here at Ironfiremen.com did a countdown to Christmas where we posted an image of one of “Santa’s Sexy Helpers” right down until Christmas Day. Last year, we did 19 days worth. This year, we decided to narrow it down to 10. That’s right .. 10 days until Christmas! So, here is our 1st installment of the “2011 Ironfiremen.com’s 10 Days of Santa’s Sexy Helpers”
I know … it’s the least I could do…LOL The good news is that they get better! Oh yea..I almost forgot. One of my female readers /followers (Jena Champion) suggested that I add some MALE sexy “helpers” .. ask and ye shall receive…..
I’ll have a new “Sexy Helper” up every day so be sure to keep checking in. I’m gonna stop here for today and get ready for our Company (Lucky #13-C ) Christmas Dinner. I’ll tell ya how it went sometime tomorrow….
MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS …. stay Safe and in House…