It was a Tuesday and I was on shift. That day, I was assigned to Engine 12. The day began like most other shifts: we had checked trucks and equipment and then headed out to test hydrants. We were behind the Winn Dixie about 2 miles from the station when the Battalion Chief called us, directed us to return to quarters and turn on the television. We got there just in time to see the second plane hit the towers. Shortly after, the reports came in that the Pentagon had been hit. That was when I knew that we were at war.
When the first tower came down, I remember one of the guys saying something like “There are thousands who work there, I bet 2 thousand people just died.” I remember how large of a number that was, and how impossible that seemed. It was then that I said “There were hundreds of firefighters in there.”
The next few weeks were unreal. Everywhere we went, firefighters got love and cheers. People paid for our meals. Still, there was this overwhelming sense that we as Americans had a target on our backs. As a firefighter, I wondered what it felt like to enter that second tower knowing that it would eventually come down, and wondered if I would have had the same guts that they did. Still, every fire I went to, I still went in.
Things were different for me after that.

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