This week marks the 14th year since that horrible day we all remember as 9-11. I remember the morning well, being awakened on my alarm radio with the sounds of KTAR morning show host, Ned Foster, describing that one of the World Trade Towers had been hit with a plane. I laid in bed thinking was this real and turned on the TV to see the tower on fire and clear skies. I immediately thought to myself, "How does a jet hit one of the towers on a completely clear day?" In an instant my first thought was this was an act of terrorism and slowly woke up to this most surreal morning and then day.
As I continued to watch the TV I could see another plane approaching and saying. "Oh my God there comes another jet," and watched the second tower hit live on TV. I then called all of my employees, as it was still before 7am here in AZ, and told them to just all stay home. As the day unfolded, we watched the Pentagon struck, the plane crash in Pennsylvania, the Anthrax scares... it was just all bad.
But as with Katrina four years later, I watched all of this from the comfort and safety of my home. But, as with all of these events, real people died, gave their lives, or lived through the loss and aftermath. It is truly hard to know the grief and despair one goes through in an episode like this.
Flashback to last month, and my visit to New York. I was blogging about our trip when our good friend Maureen Geraghty, who is the Director of Business Development for Underfoot and regularly attends the ARA Network events, emails me that she is enjoying my blog and tells me a story that moved me which I would like to share.
My brother, Eddie, was a Chief in the NYFD. His firehouse is located in Time Square; Batallion 9, Engine 54, Ladder 4 at 48th and 8th. Eddie was posthumously promoted to Deputy Chief as he was going to be promoted shortly after 9/11. My grandfather and father were retired NYFD Captain's. My three brothers, brother in law, and three nephews are all firefighters. All 3 nephews got on the job after 9/11, one of my nephews is my brother Eddie's son Connor. My brother in law, Tommy DeAngelis, also a Chief in the NYFD was an active firefighter that day.
Eddie was 45 years old and had a wife and three young boys 14, 11 and 4 years old on 9/11. He loved his life and he loved his job. It is a wonderful thing to see someone love their work so much. Eddie's goal was to be running the department some day, and we all knew he would.
We didn't know where Eddie or Tommy were on 9/11 and that was the tough part, especially for my parents. My other two brothers worked that night and called home right away. They were down at the site every day digging and looking for miracles. My brother Stevie later told me they knew the moment they were at the site that no one was coming home. We found out where my brother Ed was and what he was doing by listening to a recording of his last moments. Someone recorded the radio channel that the chief's were on and we got to hear him doing a job he loved and doing it well. I have attached a copy of some of his last words that are at a memorial in NY. He is Batallion 9. We found out that he was in the second tower that got hit. He was on the 40th floor setting up a triage unit outside the elevator. The purpose was to stabilize then transport the injured down to ambulances awaiting. Eddie was communicating with another Chief, Oriel Palmer in the recording. Oriel and his crew were walking up to the 72nd floor, where the planes wheels had cut through the building. Oriel arrived on 72 and he was describing to my brother what he was seeing. Eddie had just finished setting up the triage unit and said "I'm coming up Oriel" and then the building came down. Eddie had no idea that the building was coming down - and indeed he was "going up." I feel blessed to know that he did not suffer or have any fear like so many had that day. My family also lost a brother in law as well, Thomas DeAngelis, also a Chief in the NYFD.
This email really brought it all home for me. I had not choice than for Isabel and I to visit Battalion 9 on 48th Street and 8th Avenue which we did. What a wonderful experience and it was so nice to share some time with the good men and women of the NYFD and pay respect to Maureen's brother and all of those who gave their lives on this fateful day. If in NYC take some time to head over there and say hello to the crew and bring them some doughnuts or bagels. They love it and will take the time to give you a tour of their station. Thank you Maureen for reaching out to Isabel and I while on our trip. It was the most meaningful moment of any trip I have ever taken to NYC.
So, please take some time this coming Friday, September 11th, to reflect, pray, and thank all of those who gave their lives that day and all of those that lost those who gave their lives on that day. People and families across the world, and especially those in the Middle East, to this day still suffer the loss and instability that started with that one despicable and cowardly act. I challenge all of you to just DO something nice for somebody - anybody, and spread some love and light to drown out those that only want to spread darkness. It does't have to be anything big or monumental. All of us together doing one small thing can spread like the ripples of water from the smallest stone cast in a pond. Please share in honor of Maureen's brother Ed!