Sunday, September 11, 2016

Brave


At dusk fifteen years ago today, we took our children outside to play with other children whose parents were also seeking an escape from the continuous loop of the two towers falling. As I sat on a bench, watching my kids and talking with some of the other adults, my son, then 9, broke away from the game of wiffle ball he was playing and came of to stand in front of me. His face was solemn. "A lot of heroes died today," he said. I had no idea how to respond, so I just hugged him close. I didn't know it at the time, but his ambition to be one of New York's Bravest was crystallizing inside him. He was gobsmacked by the kind of bravery it took to run into a burning building to save people unknown to you. Since that time, through high school and college and jobs, he never wavered in his desire to join the FDNY, and he never stopped working toward it. This was the year he made his dream happen.

This morning, before daylight, while the rest of us slept, he showered and put on his full dress uniform to attend a department-wide memorial service for the men and women in the fire service who died on 9/11. I realize this is what he will be doing on this day every year from now on. And when there is a storm or any sort of public crisis, he will be there in his big steel toed black boots, wading into the center of everything to secure life and limb. It's what he wanted.

"When everything is going to hell, I plan to be one of the people who has the training to help keep it from getting there," he told me once. He is now an EMT with the FDNY, and will train as a paramedic, and take the promotion exam to firefighter. His paperwork for all that is already in. One part of me wishes he would remain on the medical side, because I am not as brave as he is. I don't want him running into any burning buildings. But when one feels called, you can't stand in the way of that. May there never be another day in history like the day those Twin Towers kneeled into rubble. May all those who lost people that day be somehow comforted. And may my boy ever be safe, as he lives this call to safeguard others when everything around them is burning down.

8 comments:

  1. Have you ever listened to all of Bruce Springsteen's album, The Rising? All in one piece? It's about 9/11 mostly and I think he captured for many of us what that day felt like. I was so far away here in Florida but I think that the silence which resulted from the horror allowed the feeling of it all to flow through the country like a silent flood.
    Your boy.
    I hope you know that we are ALL so proud of him. We have watched him become the person he dreamed he would be. Yes. He was called. And he has answered.
    Oh, Mama. May he always be safe.

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  2. It is a job for other people's children isn't it? I am proud of him and proud of you. Your mother heart is just as brave for letting him follow his dream without holding him back.

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  3. Mary and Birdie have both said everything I would say. It must be both extraordinarily difficult and hugely uplifting to have a child willing to put himself or herself between danger and ordinary people. In the end, our children's happiness is the true test of what they should do, in my opinion. We make them, we raise them, we release them, and if they are happy, we do what we have to do to accept their choices. Bless your son, and you, his parents.

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  4. Lt. Michael Fodor, Ladder Co. 21, was our next-door neighbor when we lived in New York. He was one of the first responders to the World Trade Center on September 11 and was killed that day. I have never forgotten him and never will. The fact your son has such a calling is such a honorable thing. Even though it must be so worrisome, I know how proud you are. I wish him the best.

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  5. Over here in Germany I remember that day so well and yesterday morning I felt a all over shiver and the tears again. You can be so proud of your son! May he always come home healthy!

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  6. I was working in a bank in St. Albans ( about 20 miles north of London) on that dreadful day. A customer came in around 2 pm, and said something terrible was happening in New York. We put the TV on in the rest room, and we all kept going in to see. When I picked my youngest son up from school later ( he would have been 14 then) I told him he must watch as it would go down in history as a very important happening. Your post has brought tears to my eyes, and I too feel so proud of your boy. May he always stay safe. X

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  7. You have raised two very strong and beautiful children. May they be forever safe and have joyous lives. x0 N2

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