There are numerous thoughts swirling through my mind as I write this. It’s been ten years since the day. I was working at Lexis-Nexis at the time. We watched it all from our training room. Horror, fear, panic, sadness, and grief unexplainable…all at once. That evening I spent time with a wonderful woman who would later become my sweet wife.
People I call friends today would go to Ground Zero and help with the search and clean up. Ohio Task Force One went on their first mission. Among my friends, Chief Scott Hall was there. I knew none of those fine heroes then, but I have the privilege of knowing some of them today.
I remember being moved to tears by other pictures, at the time not even knowing why. People cheering and saluting the NYPD and FDNY as they drove by. The image of the exhausted firefighter surrounded by angels (and the snow version that winter). Those and so many others moved me. In 2008, I would figure out why.
In 2008, during one of the moments of silence, there was one for the last firefighter found alive. At that moment, a chain of events occurred that changed my life, and continues to do so even to this day. During that moment, a gratitude for our law enforcement and fire crews really “came to life” so to speak. That evening I called the Huber Heights Police and asked the dispatcher if she could let the officers and fire fighters know my appreciation for them. I was informed that they had not had that request in over 14 years. So that’s when I decided that I would reach as many as I could and let them know they are cared about. Since then I’ve talked (in person and via email) to officer sand firefighters from all over the country.
Today I read the story of Father Mychal Judge, the Chaplain of the New York Fire Department. He actually entered the towers that morning. Why? Because his guys were in there. And when commanders gave orders to evacuate the building, he refused to abandon the hundreds of firefighters still trapped inside saying, “My work here is not finished.”
“Fidelis Ad Mortem” – “Faithful Unto Death”. That’s what he was. Faithful unto death. One day I will get that badge with the word “Chaplain” on it. That’s where I’m headed. And when I do, I hope to be as faithful to “my guys” as he was to his. Fidelis Ad Mortem.