Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering the 343

Eleven years ago today, over 1,000 men and women, all of them dressed in 50 to 75 pounds of firefighting gear, faced the worst event of their careers.

The Twin Towers in New York City had been attacked and were burning.

At 8:50 a.m., the New York City Fire Department had established its incident command center at the World Trade Centers. The first plane hit at 8:45 a.m.; the response was immediate. The fire department was on the scene within five minutes.

These brave firefighters hustled inside while everyone else was doing their best to get outside.

They were saving lives, these folks. They were doing what they were trained to do.

What they loved to do.

What they would die doing.

At 9:59 a.m., the first of the tallest towers of the World Trade Center collapsed. The firefighters who were valiantly trying to reach people believed to be trapped on upper floors, were unable to get out. As those of us who sat watching the events unfold on TV know, the collapse occurred without warning. The buildings were down before anyone could react.

And 343 firefighters died, along with over 2,000 other people.

As the wife of a firefighter, I know that every day could be the day that things go wrong on the fire scene. This could be the day that a building explodes, a roof caves in, a car crashes into firefighters standing on the side of the road putting out a burning vehicle (something that happened in Roanoke in 1985, killing several firefighters).

These people do a job that most people wouldn't dream of doing. They risk their lives every single time they go to work. When you are running away in fear, they are putting on their hats and heading off to face down whatever it is you are afraid of. Tornadoes, hurricanes, fire, flood, derecho winds, downed power lines or a terrorist attack do not halt these dedicated people. They go forward when the rest of us would hang back.

On this 11th anniversary of the attack on New York City, please remember the sacrifices of these brave men and women, the firefighters who go where no one dares to go.

You might want to say thank you to them, too. You never know when the life they save might be yours.

4 comments:

  1. I still remember that dreadful day (which the million or more people who have since died as a direct consequence don't have the opportunity to do). Yes, the real heroes are those who, day after day, unnoticed and unsung, save lives, the firefighters and those who help. But at least there is this:

    9/11 cancer victims to have treatment funded

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19553253

    And about time. Doubtless this being an election year helped get justice for them.

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  2. i still remember like it was yesterday....

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  3. We remember it minute by minute and the fear that rocked our serene little life in suburban Maryland just 30 minuted outside of DC. Flee or stay? It was too frightening for words and those who served will never be forgotten.

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  4. Living in NJ at the time and being married to a retired fire captain, I do recall the day so well and remember watching TV nearly non-stop for 24 hours because the horror of those events was just so unreal, but sadly real.

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