Posted tagged ‘fdny 343’

Never Forget…Not Just One Day a Year.

09/07/2011

Never Forget….You hear it so often that it starts to become more of a slogan than words with meaning. Sometimes we say it, write it, tattoo it but not really remember the true meaning of “Never Forget” and what it represents.

Every year I remember September 11th 2001 and the 343 men that died doing their job that day. Do I only remember once a year? Not a chance. However I specifically take that day each year, to reflect on the men who died and how I remember. The way I Never Forget comes in a few different variations.

If I am off duty I take part in the annual stair climb at the Qwest building in Downtown Denver.  I, along with my crew and hundreds of others, bring all of our gear and hike the 55 floors of the building twice to accomplish the 110 stories of the towers. This is a very personal way to Never Forget. You are assigned a picture of one of the men that died, it has their name and company to which they were assigned. The meaning becomes more powerful when you put a face to the number,  you begin think about them when your legs become unsteady and breathing becomes more difficult. Mentally it makes you stronger than you ever would be while hiking those stairs any other day.  For me personally I have no excuse to think about the pain, the fatigue, or the doubt (of finishing) that may cross my mind.  For a short hour I feel fatigue that is only the smallest fraction of what they must have felt. I hike in conditions that are perfect compared to those stairwells, and the only thing that I realize is that I do not have the slightest clue of what it was like to be one of them.

That’s what is great about remembering them in this fashion, it humbles you which gives you respect. It brings fatigue and stress which lets you remember physically and it brings emotion by having you climb for a specific man who died that day. Thank you to those that organize these climbs across the nation, you are living up to our vow.

If I am scheduled for duty I don’t take a trade to do these other events.  I feel honored to work that day and have my own way of remembering. For me it is a good reset button, a day to forget any of the politics, or parts of our job that bring us down. A day to forget the things that don’t matter and focus on the very basics, culture and tradition of our trade. To think about the word brotherhood that is so commonly thrown around without the action that it takes to support it. What  can you do to make yourself and the others on your crew better, and how can you support them.  Ask yourself if you are combat ready, if you do not who will? Without these questions and actions, we will become complacent. To me this is honoring and remembering what they lost their lives for. They were center stage that day representing the entire American Fire Service, and they put on a perfect show. They accomplished the greatest interior search and removal of citizens that has ever been done. All of this while knowing this could be their last march up a stairwell, and not hesitating because of the belief in our core mission of removing people from harms way. By remembering them, I challenge myself  to try and be a good tradesman for my small part of the Fire Service.  

The discouraging part about these beliefs is the realization that  I will take grief and some ridicule for believing in them. Why would I say that? Because it already happens. Either verbally or through actions towards me it is usually made clear who does not believe in representing or remembering our fallen in this way or supporting the culture of brotherhood. This only makes me more thankful to those that have mentored me through their actions and taught me why it is important that we remember our fallen, focus on our basics, and protect the important culture of our trade.

I will be flying out to NYC tonight to remember 9-11 and the 343 in a different way this year. This is my ramblings on what remembering does and means to me. What does it mean for you?

Never Forget


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