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  • An Editorial response

    This was written in response to an article in the Washington Post by Sally Jenkins about the 9-11 tragedies and the heroism of FDNY.


    "I Am Not Surprised"
    Theresa Pratt
    9-22-01

    I have been listening to the stories told about the heroism of the FDNY over the past several days. Reporters have extolled these brave men with “roasted appendages” and “smoking hats.” They speak of how people who used to snub these men are now cheering them when they walk by. America has discovered a real life hero.

    While all this is true, I submit to you that these men in New York are merely the best example of what has happened quietly in small towns and firehouses across this nation since the first career fire department started in Cincinnati in the 1800’s. Firemen are a special breed, and have been since it first occurred to man to try and stop a fire’s destruction. Every town has a firehouse, and every firehouse is full of heroes. Sit quietly in their kitchens and listen to the stories they tell; watch them interact and you will discover the truth in this.

    Firemen are dedicated to family, First and foremost is a fireman’s personal family. He places himself as personal guardian of those he loves, often working two jobs to ensure that they are provided for to the best of his ability. However, once he knows his family is taken care of, his attentions shift. Now he needs to take care of those around him. With him it isn’t a desire, it is a need. He feels a sense of civic duty that most people are blissfully ignorant of. At times he can seem cold to his family, if they don’t understand what he is doing. I know this because I have married one of these men. He is old fashioned, a man in the truest sense of the word.

    All firemen are brothers. Since they are dedicated to family that means that they are also dedicated to each other. I watched while one brother came to the firehouse and sat in a chair with his head down. Then he looked up at those sitting in that room and told them that his wife was leaving him. Within minutes phone calls had been placed and the brothers started appearing. They took him out and let him drink until he couldn’t think anymore and than took care of him. They knew what he, at that moment needed to be able to do. Later, when he was more able to think, they talked. I have also watched them rally around the family of a fallen brother. They stepped in and became fathers to the fatherless children. They dug deep into their own pockets to support the widow. They cried at their brother’s funeral. And finally, I have had the honor of watching them rally around me. A few years ago, my son died after only living for a few hours. One memory I have from the blur of pain that was that time is the firemen. They did a walk through at my son’s funeral. I remember, one by one, in dress uniform, with hat in hand, they came to me with hugs and words of comfort. Afterwards, they stood back, in a line, while the minister read his words. They were honoring my husband for what he is and my son for what he might have been. They have become my truest and most trusted friends.

    I know that what happened in New York is tragic beyond all description. My heart is breaking even though I have never met even one of these brave men. I don’t have to. I was not surprised when I heard how many were missing. In the back of my mind, I have known all along that something like this was bound to happen. How could it not. Firemen everywhere are running forward buttoning up their coats and pulling on their boots while the rest of the world is running away. They don’t know the people they are running forward to save. The property they are risking their life to protect is not theirs. In many cases, they aren’t even getting paid. Each time I see a truck pull away from the station or scream down the street, tears come to my eyes and I whisper a prayer for those brave men inside. They are, to a man, beautiful. They are the true Americans, and always have been.

    These brave men are not digging through the rubble and destruction at the World Trade Center to get national attention, though that is an effect of what they are doing. They are men with broken hearts and numbed minds scratching at the earth trying to find their brothers. Of course they aren’t giving up. Anyone who understands firemen knows that they won’t until the last brother is accounted for and returned to his family. They can’t. If I were to meet one on the street, I wouldn’t cheer. I would do what I have always done – offer him a cold cup of water, a hug and my love. I would give him whatever he needs to be able to return to ground zero and keep digging. His name doesn’t matter. His battalion doesn’t matter. He is a brother. That is all that matters.

    [ 09-24-2001: Message edited by: Tillerman-6 ]
    "What makes a person run into a building others are running out of?...Character."- Dennis Smith

    www.elmirafire.org

  • #2
    Teresa,

    Very moving and comforting. You really do understand us. Thank you.

    God Bless and watch over the members lost on 9-11.

    Comment


    • #3
      Beautiful. Simply put, beautiful.
      Hey, stay safe.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm speechless...what a moving tribute!

        You know, last night, for the first time that I can remember, we rode out on a call with the lights going and the siren screaming, and people actually cheered as we went by...
        "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

        Joe Black

        The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

        Comment


        • #5
          outstanding...I would love to see the article that prompted this respone.
          09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
          ------------------------------
          IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
          "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
          BMI Investigator
          ------------------------------
          The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

          Comment


          • #6
            To see the article which prompted this, go to www.washingtonpost.com and look for an article called "Company of Heroes" by Sally Jenkins.

            [ 09-25-2001: Message edited by: Tillerman-6 ]
            "What makes a person run into a building others are running out of?...Character."- Dennis Smith

            www.elmirafire.org

            Comment


            • #7
              Wow.
              I read this, then read the washington post article. Helmet off to both ladies. They touched me right on the soul.
              thanks.
              Be safe brothers

              Comment


              • #8
                Great post! THank You. I have seen this quote posted before and think it sums it all up.
                "I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine."

                --Kurt Vonnegut
                J Randall

                Comment


                • #9
                  So beautifully written...thank you!
                  Pepper

                  Comment

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