Some things hit so close to home you can feel them, taste them, see how they would affect your life reflected in the stories you read about others who have gone through it. Remembering September 11, 2001, is like that for me. If only for a moment, I can see my husband running up stairs with other firefighters while everyone else is running down. I can hear the confusion in the voices of the dispatchers, ems personnel, officials and journalists as they realize that before their very eyes, death has taken more souls in an instant than they ever thought possible. I can feel the emptiness left after a phone call to the widow of a firefighter leaves her to gaze at her fatherless children and wonder how she is ever going to tell them that Daddy isn't coming home after his shift today, ever.
I am in awe of the thousands of tributes and projects dedicated to honoring and remembering the heroes and victims of the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and Flight 93, projects like dc's 2,996, which has already reached it's goal of having one blogger write a tribute for each of the victims lost in our nation's worst terrorist attack. The project is already working on assigning a 2nd wave of bloggers, worldwide, to write tributes. I invite you to visit this site to read amazing stories of the people who were lost on that day, to put faces and real lives to the names, to remind yourself that we are all in this boat together, and without one another, we are simply alone.
I longed to be able to find the strength to participate in the 2,996 project, but it is just too hard for me. Perhaps because my husband is a firefighter, at an airport. Perhaps because ever since he could say the word "firetruck" my oldest son has been obsessed with all things firefighter.
He watches every move his father makes, taking mental notes for the pretend inferno he will conquer as soon as he gets home and dons his father's old bunker gear and helmet, in the hot summer sun.
He has been a firefighter for Halloween 4 times! And shows no sign of wanting to be anything but.
He wants to save all his money to buy child-size bunker gear (since Daddy's is a bit big and cumbersome). It is $300.00, but he's on a mission. I have no idea why they even make bunker gear to fit a 9-year-old.
His brother and sister delightfully oblige his firefighter escapades with the willingness of little clones, obeying his every order just as if he were their Chief. One is the siren, one is the trapped person in the building, McRae saves the day.
Perhaps because we have a family history rich in Firefighters, it is no surprise that my son wants to follow in these footsteps, those of my grandfather, Brett's grandfather, Brett's father and my uncle. Perhaps his love of the profession will wane over the years and he will forget the days he spent drilling Daddy on how smoke turns into fire, or how you vent a roof. Perhaps he will chose a "safer" line of work. Somehow, I think not. It is undeniable right now, and for now, that's okay.
It is okay because although there are tremendous risks associated with being a firefighter, there are unimaginable rewards.
Running into a burning building to save a life when everyone else is running out is just one of them, and I will never forget.
In my life, it isn't possible to forget what happened on September 11, 2001, as I look into my children's eyes when they ask me "Will a plane ever crash at Daddy's work?". I wish that I could tell them "no," but I can't.
*Originally posted on Stop Screaming I'm Driving! - September, 2006