Exactly twenty years ago. I still remember that morning in more detail than all but of a few of the mornings that have come since. The sky was a beautiful blue, the sun was warm, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A typical Central Florida day. My shift, C shift, had just started our 24 hour workday.
I was driving Engine 2 that morning. Dennis was riding in the seat next to me as the Lieutenant, and Justin was the back seat firefighter. Our shift had begun at 7:30 that morning as it always did. We did our morning routine as we always do. At 8:30, we left the station to do annual flow testing of fire hydrants.
By 8:45, we were behind the Winn Dixie and just about to test our first hydrant. Our Battalion Chief called us and told us to return to the station and turn on the TV. I remember jokingly asking Dennis who the guy on the radio was and what they had done to the Chief, since he would never tell us to watch TV during the day.
We arrived back in the station just in time to see the second plane hit the south tower. I remember watching Fox news and seeing them switch to the DC bureau, where reporters said they could see a column of smoke. Things were happening so fast, I couldn’t figure out what that smoke was coming from. It was then that a fellow firefighter told me that the Pentagon had been hit.
The chief called us, and when I was on the phone with him, the first tower fell. The chief said to me, “Oh my God. 30,000 people just died.” I remember being stunned that so many people could be in a building.
By noon, we had an armed SWAT officer with an MP-5 riding along with us on all of our calls “for security.”
For weeks, we firefighters were stunned at the loss of 343 firefighters. I felt a sense of awe that the guys who went into that second tower after watching the first one fall went into that building, in awe of the guys who were in the second tower when that first one fell, all the while knowing that they would never come out of the second tower. What was going through their minds? I asked myself if I could make the same choice, if I *knew* that I would not come out?
We all wanted to be able to say yes. It isn’t the same thing when you go into an ordinary fire. Firefighters are a cocky, professional bunch. When we run into a burning building, we tell ourselves that we are trained and experienced enough that it will not happen to us. Not so those guys in the towers. They went in KNOWING that they wouldn’t come out. That is a time that you don’t know what you would do until the moment of truth comes.
I just hoped that I would have the fortitude to make the choice that needed to be made, to have the courage to choose duty and honor over self preservation, and the fortune to never be placed in that position. I hoped that I would never have to make that choice.
I spent the majority of my adult life in one uniform or another, dedicated to the protection of American lives and values. I spent six years in the Navy, doing two combat tours in the Persian gulf. I wasn’t a big hero or anything. I, like millions of others did my job. After that, I spent two decades in a firefighter’s uniform. I that time, I ran into hundreds of burning buildings, jumped into a dozen lakes, thousands of medical scenes, and 22 natural disasters. I was injured three times in the line of duty. I saw a couple of thousand dead bodies, dozens of shootings and stabbings, and saved more than a few lives.
In 2011, I retired. I had seen enough death, misery, and blood for one lifetime. I thought that the time of risking life and limb for the good of this nation and its people was over. I had given enough. I deserved to be left alone to grow old and enjoy the rest of my life in as much peace as I could manage.
All I want is to be left alone to grow old in peace. The events of the past 18 months make me believe that this won’t happen. I fear that I may have to make that choice after all.
joe · September 11, 2021 at 10:04 am
I’ve spent my adult life in one uniform it another and even though I’m not as young as I was, I’m willing to give my life for the things those uniforms stood/stand for…I think that choice had already been made for us DM… it’s just a matter of time, and it has to be thousands of us or it will be a wasted attempt
Michael Stone · September 11, 2021 at 10:42 am
That’s all I can say.
PaulB · September 11, 2021 at 11:06 am
I’ve got my oil barge moored at Brooklyn Bridge Park today, right across the water from the World Trade Center. We were loading groceries when the Ferry “Father Mychal Judge” buzzed our stern. Father Judge, more properly SAINT Michael Judge, was one of the firemen who ran into the burning towers knowing it was a one-way trip. I’m always happy to see the boat- the name is unique enough that tourists always ask who he was.
For me, 20 years ago I was offshore, lobstering about 15 miles east of Boston. I knew nothing of what was happening until a Coast Guard Helo buzzed us and I turned the VHF radio on, and they told us our voyage was terminated. I remember saying, after, to my deckhand that I was awful glad not to be in New York. 20 years later here I am spitting distance from the tower.
EN2 SS · September 11, 2021 at 11:13 am
Sorry, we all have a choice to make. As a state motto says “live free or die”, that final choice is being forced on us all. Be ready.
Old NFO · September 11, 2021 at 11:58 am
Never forget, never forgive…
Capt Larry Getzfred, Capt Jack Punches (ret), AW1 Joe Pycior. Navy Watch Center, 9/11/01.
No Country For YT · September 11, 2021 at 12:46 pm
Laughing at enemedia Bolsheviks with America First style reporting on this day.
You are correct, being left alone won’t be happening, use the time wisely.
Thank you for your service, it always means something and I am thankful that the EMS and fire fighters still go out.
Big Ruckus D · September 11, 2021 at 3:05 pm
I was working from a 50′ boom lift putting siding and trim on the end gable of a two story apartment building that morning. It was a pefect early fall day. Had to get down for a restroom break, as I was removing the safety harness a lady popped out her front door and told me to come look at the tv. Saw the second plane hit live, and immediately knew that everything was about to be fubar.
I also noted before too much longer that the one (North?) tower developed a very slight tilt above the point of impact and commented to the few other people in the room that it would be coming down shortly. Not particularly prophetic, I could see it was compromised too badly, and knowing somewhat the unique structural design of those two towers relying so heavily on the outer structure for strength, I figured both were sure to go. The ongoing arguments about the true cause and nature of their collapse notwithstanding.
The one thing that struck me that day – and has really been brought home in the covidism era – is the human tendency to herd behavior and inability to properly recognize and consider risk. After the first hit, both buildings should’ve been cleared out to whatever extent possible. Sure it is easy to second guess, but if I’d been there and survived the first impact, and had a means of exiting the building, I’d have immediately bugged the fuck outta there, no way I’d have obeyed the PA annoucnements to go back in the building as it was – at least to me – self evidently stupid to do so.
I would like to think most people would do the same now having seen the consequences, though I don’t really believe most people can actually learn to overcome their bias against worse case scenarios coming to fruition. It is more of an innate mindset, borne of a level of suspicion and cynicism that only a small minority naturally possess. It’s how I think, and just can’t relate to “normal” thinking in that regard.
Anyway, just as my gut told me to expect that morning, the event was ultimately used as the basis to rollout a massive fucking of Americans in the name of safety and security. And the majority went along with it. Even now most seem to consider DHS, TSA, and all the utterly ruinous shit that the attack spawned in response to be good and neccessary. Then too there was Iraq II and Afghanistan. Yeah, those were totally worth it.
Damnable fools, anyone who still holds to that point of view. But it no longer realy matters, as the “USA” no longer exists as a going concern. It’s few remaining illusory structures and traditions will be going away soon enough due to the massive rot that has left it left it incapable of surviving.
Something new will have to be created, and It will have to exclude all the subversive leftist pricks who ruined the last iteration for the rest of us to have any chance of success. With the number of leftists we are now saddled with, that’ll be one hell of a cleanup operation. I’m not certain the intestinal fortitude can be found to proactively deal with the threat they present. Of course, failing to do so will assure the absolute destruction of the good guys by said leftists.
Differ · September 12, 2021 at 6:30 am
“I would like to think most people would do the same now having seen the consequences, though I don’t really believe most people can actually learn to overcome their bias against worse case scenarios coming to fruition. It is more of an innate mindset, borne of a level of suspicion and cynicism that only a small minority naturally possess. It’s how I think, and just can’t relate to “normal” thinking in that regard.”
We’re a generation separated from that day and that generation has grown up with the resulting lack of freedom and privacy as their normal.
Absent another such event, I don’t think the majority can overcome that herd mentality. As long as they have food and entertainment, they won’t take risks and as long as the establishment keeps them scared and distracted they will do as they’re told and not ask questions.
I hope that the scales fall from their eyes soon, but I don’t think we’re getting our republic back without violence and bloodshed and maybe not even then.
JC · September 11, 2021 at 7:31 pm
I too retired from the fire service in 2011 after 30+ years on the job.
I was coming off shift and was working out in the gym.
I see it in my mind’s eye like it was 10 minutes ago.
“I ran into hundreds of burning buildings, jumped into a dozen lakes, thousands of medical scenes, and 22 natural disasters. I was injured three times in the line of duty. I saw a couple of thousand dead bodies, dozens of shootings and stabbings, and saved more than a few lives.”
Yep. Enough was enough.
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