Saturday, September 11, 2010

9-11 and what it means to me.

This picture hangs on the wall under a plaque that was given to my dad for his years of service.

I had just returned home from taking my kid to school, and sat down to watch MSNBC to see what was in the news that day. When a report came in about a plane hitting one of the trade center towers. At first they didn't know what size plane and details were still coming in. As I continued to watch the live broadcast a second plane hit the other tower. Then reports of a third plane hitting the Pentagon in DC. I was in shock. How could this happen to my country.

As I watched the feed from NYC my thoughts were on the first responders. I am the son of a fireman. My father was on the Dept for almost thirty years till he retired. I have a younger brother who is on the Dept also. I was never big on ladders so I built fire trucks for American LaFrance. I grew up spending a lot of time in a firehouses. The other fireman were like a second family to my brothers and I. We would be there and a call would come in and they would go. Never knowing what is waiting for them at their destination. Even though you know what they do for a living. You always expect them to return home from work. I'm sure most, if not all families who lost members there expected that also.

When the first tower came down I was in total shock. Even more so after the second tower fell. Listening to the air tank alarms going off was sickening to me, as I knew each one belonged to someone. I could only imagine the horror that they faced that day.

In the weeks that followed. They would show the funerals for the fallen firefighters. They reminded me of my fathers funeral. He died just fourteen months after he retired. Over the years he would take some part time jobs driving truck to deliver paper and financial reports to NYC for a local printing company. One night he stopped by the garage I was in working on my race car and asked if i had wanted to go along to the WTC. I was never in them, so I said yes in a heartbeat.  I remember how tight those streets were and him saying that he was glad he would never have to navigate his fire truck through there. Years later my younger brother took a job driving a truck for another printing company here. My father would fill in for him when he was scheduled to work his shift at the firehouse. One day just like any other day. I heard my father leave for work. He was driving for my brother that day.  I received a call at my work at 3 PM saying my father had had a heart attack and they were taking him to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital. My brother showed up along with the fire truck that my father used to drive. As we all got out of our vehicles. We asked each other why are you here. The guys my dad worked with were there because the fire alarm went off inside the hospital. We told them that we were there because our father had a heart attack and was in the ER. They rushed to reset the alarm as my brother and I went into the ER. It was too late. He was gone. I guess his spirit set off the alarm and brought us all together as his way of saying good bye. That is why 9/11 is special to me in many ways. It reminds me that these brave men and women put their lives on the line everyday and how fragile life is. 

It was after my father had died that I took a job building fire trucks. I built the Ladder trucks for Los Angeles and for many other cities and small towns. When I was on the line. One of the things I would do was put my dad's initials and badge number on the trucks somewhere to sort of watch over them. So when you see a LTI  American La France truck go by you wherever you live. Chances are it has my dads initials and badge number on it somewhere.

So tell those special people in your life how much you love them everyday, because sometimes you never get a chance to say goodbye.

1 comment:

Roberto Baly said...

Great story Mike! Thanks for sharing :)