Firemen... and "Never Forget"
Lt. Douglas J Mitchell, Jr. FDNY.
September the 11th is later this week and I have found myself writing. I have been writing snippet's down as they pop in and out of my head, emotions from the events from that day, and its aftermath hereafter.
I just can't watch TV these last two weeks. I can't take it, it's just too much. Caught myself getting upset watching a special such as, (I will make something up here...but you know what I am saying) "FIRST RESPONDER HERO'S" brought to you specially by "All Temperature Cheer."
I can't read the papers either, thier writers and publishers, who up until this week, were bashing "Firefighter Pension's" as cause for the downfall of our economy... and so on.... and so on...
I thought to write a little side story, reflecting back on where I was in my career as a fireman when the events unfolded, but it makes no difference. I am just one of thousands of firemen who spent time at the trade center complex, went home from time to time between funerals, memorials and benefits, and came back to thier careers at the FDNY, getting back "on the job".
Sometimes I wish I wrote down what I did each day, the 2 years of so after September 11th 2001. Most times, I am glad that I didn’t. For my nation, my city, my fire department, my fire company & my friends, words cannot describe the pain.
I'll try to let the words tell my thoughts. I have posted a few of them this week in different places, but not all together...
"Never Forget" is a well worn adage attached to the brave members of the FDNY who were killed in the line of duty on September 11th 2001. I know that I will "Never Forget," I can't. There are times when I selfishly wish I that I could. "Never Forget," not one day... I just can't. "Never Forget" is more than just 2 simple words, they means everything and yet nothing at all... depending who you are.
To some, the "Never Forget" moniker is profitable, exploitable, in merchandise, ratings and to bolster arbitrary political posturing in "I'm right and your wrong." To me, it's at times silent internal reflection and at others gut wrenching jolts of emotion. You know, that empty in the pit of your stomach, want to vomit... yet can't, feeling?
Like all firemen, I know my family at home cares for me greatly. We need the support of family, it's a tough thing... family home alone: nights, weekends, birth's, death's, holidays... times when only a human touch can solve a problem and your just not there, you can’t be there your at work. But, we know fire takes no days off.
As firemen, we try to insulate our families somewhat from what we see and do, day in and day out. They don't, and can't really comprehend what it is that we do and why it is that we do it. They can't, because, they aren't firemen.
As firemen we must look out for each out for each other on this job. Only we who are firemen, truly know what the job entails.
We must rely heavily on our brothers and sisters on the job for support. That is why we show up and come out for each other in times of need. I saw it in droves after the events in lower Manhattan 10 years ago. Why did you come to NYC to help out? Why, because you are a fireman and that what we do. You saw brothers who needed support and you showed up, it was the right thing to do. I thanked every out of town guy I saw at a funeral or benefit for the support back then, and I thank you again today.
"Never Forget" the great traditions of this job, both in our successes and in our sacrifices.
"Never Forget" how we got to where we are today; in your career, in your fire company, in your fire department.
"Never Forget" the wisdom imparted by those who came before you, for they have laid the path in their sacrifices.
"Never Forget" the love of those around the table with you today, for life is fragile, and they are the present. They will carry that honor forward.
Firemen will "Never Forget" what "Never Forget" means to them, because... well, they are Firemen.