One of my 9/11 traditions is to bring flowers to our local fire house. It's a special operations squad - Squad One - that has extra training in getting people out of high rise buildings. So they were of course on the spot on 9/11. It was shift change time, and the guys who had just finished joined the ones who were just starting - they knew everyone was needed.
Friday of that week we had a candlelight procession in our neighborhood to Squad One where everyone who lived in Park Slope, it seems, thanked the surviving firefighters and mourned the twelve from our fire house who died. The fire house is next to our food coop so I go by it often but on 9/11 I go there specially and leave flowers and a note.
I left lillies today. This year's note said:
On this sixth anniversary of the day our whole world changed, I bring a small
offering. I bring it in memory of the brave souls who died six years ago today
and in honor of the brave souls who survived and continue to do this important work. May G-d
preserve and protect the firefighters of New York City, who preserve and
protect us all. Please know that our gratitude is undiminished.
It's pretty much last year's note with the numbers changed. I thought it was a good one - said what I wanted to say.
I don't romanticize and idolize fire fighters. They're not perfect people; a lot of them are macho blowhards. But there is something so purely good about the work they do. To run into a burning building to save the life of a stranger is an act of heroism at least as much as it is a job. It transcends and exists apart from the political uses this horrible event was put to. It is a huge tragedy to have lost so many of them at once. When the first tower collapsed, there was at least one fire fighter at the crash site, pulling victims out. That means he ran up 70 flights of stairs in less than an hour, with heavy equipment. And then he died.
Doran went to preschool in Battery Park City, right behind the World Trade Center. There was a firehouse across the street from the WTC, and we walked by it en route from our bus to school. The guys used to let him wear their hats or sit in the trucks if we were early for school. He called them "my fire fighter friends." They were the ones who rescued people in the first World Trade Center bombing and we baked cookies for them as a thank you. I don't know that any of them survived 9/11.