Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Courage


An extraordinary new mural by Brazilian artist Edward Kobra was unveiled in New York City today, on the seventeenth anniversary of 9/11. I am now the mother of an FDNY paramedic, who found his calling in the ashes of that awful day, and who will enter the fire academy to be further trained as a firefighter this year. That number on the kneeling firefighter's helmet, 343, is how many of his comrades died at Ground Zero. I remember my son, then nine years old, stood before me as dusk fell and said, "Mommy, a lot of heroes died today." I hugged him to me, with no idea that he was already trying to puzzle out the kind of courage it took for a person to run into a burning building to save strangers. Could he grow into a man with that kind of courage, he wondered. It would become the central question of his life, and would fuel his desire to be the person equipped to save lives when the world went to hell. In college, while he dreamed of joining the FDNY upon graduation, my son acquired a raft of first responder and water rescue certifications. My husband and I joked that he never met a certification he didn't want to collect. And indeed, as soon as he graduated, he began training as an EMT. His class began on September 11 five years ago, a fitting echo for a young man who never wavered in his dream. My son doesn't know that his sister used to cry herself to sleep at the thought of her brother wanting to be a firefighter. She understood, even if I didn't then, that it was a calling he would not outgrow. At last, I had to accept that this was his path. He humbles me. He makes me proud. May he be safe and protected always.


My babies, 2001


10 comments:

  1. I was thinking of your son yesterday, and all the firefighters and courageous people who run into the fire and flames to save others. They are true heroes.

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  2. Your 911 story speaks of several kinds of courage and opens up another kind of courage I need today. Courage rises in each generation. We look to each others' hearts. As I look at the photo of your son and daughter who were so young in 2001 and look at the eloquent mural, there is no doubt in my mind about the power of love. Thank you for this.

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  3. So humbling in every way. Your son's determination, his persistence. His absolute clear path to a dream he made real.
    And you and his dad have been there every step of the way with the love and support he needed. And that beautiful sister too.

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  4. I deeply admire people like your son, who are willing to put themselves in harm's way to help others. It can't be easy for you or your husband, bittersweet I imagine.
    My he be safe and protected always.

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  5. I am incredibly grateful for people like your son who are called to a greater purpose in keeping all of us safe. I am in awe.

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  6. That is a beautiful mural, and deeply moving. Your son sounds like an amazing person.

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  7. I have been thinking of your son and what you have written about him and his choice of purpose this week. He is remarkable.

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  8. It's amazing to me that some people - including your son - know from such an early age what they want to do in life and never stop working toward it. I'm glad there are folks like him who are willing to do this difficult work, because not everyone is suited for it. I'm less glad because I'm a parent, too . . .

    That mural is fantastic, isn't it?

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