Thursday, September 11, 2008

Angels in Soot-Covered Helmets

I’m wearing a NY Fire Department t-shirt today. I wore it last year on this day. And the year before. And the year before that. It only seems right to me.

9/11 was such a surreal event. Actually, event is the wrong word. Event has positive connotations. 9/11 was a surreal disaster. I will never forget watching everything happen on TV and feeling this overwhelming desire to be in New York. To do something to help. To hold the hands of people in that state and band together with them to heal.

I did not know anyone who was lost in the towers. But I listened to their names at the memorial and cried and cried. What struck me the very most through the whole tragedy, though, was the loss of the firemen. Report after report noted that while everyone else was running out, the firemen were running in. And it’s for them that my heart breaks the most.

My brother is a fireman. He’s been working in the field for about 17 years, with years of volunteer experience before that. Right now, he is an engineer, so he drives the truck and operates it while the other guys run into burning buildings. For this, I am lucky. But there will most likely come a time when, again, he is one of the yellow coats rushing in to rescue people.

And I hope that when that day comes, the men who I'm wearing my shirt for today will watch over and protect him.


laura said...

nice might remember we got married that week...and on 9/11my dad happened to be in Northern California on a fire...when 9/11 happened they would not send anyone of the firemen home and I was so afraid he wasn't going to be home in time for my the end he was there to walk me down the aisle and I realized how lucky we were to not have lost anyone that day.

Of course Danny's family is all from NY and half of them were already here for our wedding (they arrived on 9/10) and the other half were to fly out on 9/12...well they never made it because they couldn't get a flight out. And the one's here wanted nothing more to be home because they did know people that didn't make it. But they kept a positive attitude for us...

Like you, I will never forget.

Hannah said...

This got me all misty eyed. What a great post.

Dingo said...

I remember several days after 9/11 I saw a bunch of firemen headed from Midtown to the WTC site (I just can't seem to call it Ground Zero). They were hanging onto the sides of a dump truck. You could only see their eyes because their faces were covered in soot, ash, and dirt. The American flag was draped across the side of the truck. The look in their eyes. I just sat on a curb and cried.

Nilsa S. said...

And that's what is so amazing about 9/11. Even though many of us, most of us, had no direct connection to the disaster, we all have connections. And it's what connects the people in this country together.

The Coconut Diaries said...

This is the stuff I think about when I hear polticians say "America". I don't think about blue or red, abortion or God, skin color, or right and wrong. I think of a community pulling together and collectively putting actions where are hearts are.

You rock in your shirt!

Wow, that was awkward said...

Peace Mel, peace.

Mel Heth said...

Laura - Gosh I always forget about how insane that time was for you guys. I think you felt the impact of the whole incident more than anyone else I know.

Hannah - Thanks. :)

Dingo - It's weird - I can't imagine being there. How chaotic and unbelievably emotional it would've been. But there's a big part of me that wishes I had been there.

Nilsa - You're right. I wish we remembered our connection more often and as deeply as we did after 9/11 happened.

Coconut Diaries - That is a great way to think of America. The idea of our country should be just that - communities coming together. I hope we can work to make that idea more of a reality in the future.

Wow TWA - Thanks, man. :)

justrun said...

It is strange to me how it's already become so generational. My eleven and eight-year-old cousins don't have any perspective on it. The 10th grade girl that lives next door was in 5th grade when it happened. You know how she describes it? "It looked pretty scary." That's her perspective. And I think about that as we move forward, because those of us that can't forget have to continue feeling the way you do.
I'm not really sure where I wanted to go with this, just that I understand what you're saying.