Now for something a bit different…
Below is a note I wrote on the morning of the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Its my reflection of the 10 years that have passed. A friend of mine reminded me about it, and gave me the idea to post it here for you. I hope you enjoy it.
I woke up earlier than normal on that Tuesday morning. I was starting a new routine of going to the YMCA for a morning workout. It was my first pre-work workout. I had finished-up, showered and shaved before heading over to the television station I worked at for the day. I was just in the car and I had it on 92.5 Kiss, and the DJ’s had said a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I thought surely this was a joke, Kiss 92.5 was not a news channel, they were a “fluff” music station. I tuned over to the AM dial, where it was confirmed. I thought it was just a small plane, just an accident. By the time I got to my desk, the 2nd plane had already crashed and it was all but confirmed to be a terrorist act. I was training a new employee that day Laura, and it was difficult to focus, because the 13″ television over my shoulder was showing it all unfold. When the Tower collapsed, I just wouldn’t believe it. I couldn’t fathom that it was completely gone, I just kept waiting for the cloud to clear, to reveal the tower again.
A month earlier (Early August 2001) I remember very vividly driving on the HWY (westbound) with Linda (we had only been dating for 3 years at that point), we had just passed under the bridge before our exit, and the car was quiet. Out of nowhere I remember looking over to Linda and said “You know what? I think I want to be a firefighter, I think I could do it.” Without a hesitation, Linda said “That’s great. I always thought that would be something you could do, but I never wanted to suggest it and sway you”. It was that moment I decided I was going to do it. I was going to become a firefighter.
The next day I opened an online account with ING Direct, and titled the account “Firefighting School fund”. I was still living at home, making about 36k and working a decent job in sports television. I was going to save tuition for a year, and quit the following September just in time for school. Although I was receiving some good feedback and support from those around me, I was still a bit unsure of what I was doing. Was I making a mistake quitting job I wanted and was good at, to go back to school and chase a dream? A short lived dream at that. 36K wasn’t too shabby for a 21 year old still living at home 10 years ago.
Rewind back to September 11, 2001. The days following that horrible event news poured in fast and furious. It was becoming more and more apparent that there was a very large loss of life. The FDNY hadn’t released a number yet, but you knew it was going to be a big one. For me personally, this was the storyline I was following the most closely. The civilians that died in 9/11 are horrific, but the loss of emergency service personnel is what hit me the hardest. Those civilians never stood a chance; they tried their hardest to get out. The Police, Firefighters and Port Authority all went running IN to help. They were free and clear of that building before hell broke loose. They CHOSE to go in and help. This is what is most devastating to me. Any doubt I had previously about joining the fire service ended that day. I was absolutely sure, 100% that this is what I was going to do with my life. I have a ridiculous and unimaginable amount of respect for those that lost their lives that day. True hero’s in every sense of the word. I was going to honor them by becoming one of them.
Fast forward to today, September 11, 2011. I just finished my shift at the firehall, I had the honor of lowering our flag to half staff this morning as the sun came up, we had just returned from a small fire. Someone had left us flowers in front of the hall as they have done for the last ten years. I was lucky to be working the full day last year on 9/11 and experienced a different mood in the neighborhood. People went out of their way to smile and say hello. Someone came by and brought us all pizzas for lunch, and left before we could thank them. I was honored to wear the uniform that day more than ever, and guilty at the same time for receiving “thanks” and other accolades for those that suffered in 2001.
Looking back on the past ten years, I graduated college, gotten married, had a beautiful son, and I work in a career that is far more rewarding than the pay and benefits. I often wonder where I’d be if 9/11 never happened. Would I have given up on my dream to become a firefighter? Decided it was too tough and leave it by the wayside because of a lack of motivation?
This morning I sit and reflect, as I am sure Billions of people do today as well. I’m watching my son drink his milk, and watch cartoons. He has no idea what happened 10 years ago, for that I am thankful.
Never forgetting and always reflecting.
Thanks for reading my personal experiences regarding 9/11/01.