I started my fire academy in the hot summer sun of red white and blue — five days after the 4th of July. All “fired” up!
We were two months into the academy, sweating our daily workouts, glistening happy faces, eager to embark on the adventure of a new career, with sore strong muscles, covered in soot and ash after live fire trainings, when 9/11 happened.
On the way to the training tower on that eleventh day of September, I was listening to the morning news — a terrible accident in New York, a building exploded, possibly an attack? I called my sister. She had heard too.
That morning our militaristic routines of the day quietly slipped away, and seventeen wide-eyed recruits sat at our desks watching in empty silence the live coverage. The first tower was on fire high up. As we watched, it crumbled to the ground.
Just like that. Disbelief. We watched like we were watching the latest television show, idle spectators, as a plane crashed into the second Twin Tower. The newscasters were flustered. “Oh my God!” No lines to read off the teleprompter. There were gasps in our room. I heard someone — one of my big strong eager brothers — sob.
Disbelief. I got up and went to the bathroom and cried. Big sorrow. That’s how I started my career as a firefighter.
Today, as I lowered the flags to half staff at our fire station in remembrance, the memories came rushing back. A tough day for firefighters, I looked past the waving flags into the clear blue sky.