Having been a Firefighter in a large city for 30 years, I know the feeling of responding to a serious fire. When a call comes in, sending your fire unit to a major fire, a lot of things go through your mind. What kind of dangers will we face? Are people trapped? Where is the seat of the fire located? Will we be up to the task?

On September 11th 2001 responding New York Firefighters pondered these questions. Little did they know, for many of them, this would be their last fire. What they faced on arrival at the scene was an unimaginable situation. An airplane crashed into the upper floors of the World Trade Center. Those of you who have been at airline crash sites know the terrible carnage a Firefighter will encounter. Put the crash site 80 stories up and it is a tremendous challenge. The NYFD did not hesitate, they moved in quickly with a determination that would make a pit bull envious. They did their job that day. In the words of a U S Marine General, commenting about the assault on Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue during the battle. The same was true in New York City on September 11th 2001. Uncommon valor was a common thing that day.

In Cheboygan Michigan a group of retired Detroit Firefighters will gather in a small park, where they have erected a memorial to the victims of 911. They will hold a short ceremony remembering their fallen brothers and sisters. It has been an annual ritual since the day of that terrible attack on our country. Our prayers will include the police officers, emergency personnel, and the civilians who perished that day.

In my mind I will think about the tragic loss of such brave individuals and the anguish we all share in that loss. Though my heart is heavy it is filled with pride knowing this country has such people working in the Fire Service. I think the term "uncommon valor was a common virtue" is the appropriate way to describe those New York Firefighters.

Stay safe my brothers and sisters.

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"Fire Horses" book authored by firefighter R.J. Haig.


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