Today of all days, I am most proud of the almost 15 years I spent in fire & EMS.
Today of all days, I am most disappointed that I needed to leave that career.
Today is September 11th.
At the time I left, I do not think I fully understood the job I had done for so many years. It took the events of September 11, 2001 to reveal the true depths of the commitment. No, I am not talking about the commitment to run into a building when everyone else is running out. I am talking about the commitment to each other. The Brothers. The Sisters.
The commitment the Brothers and Sisters working “the pile” had to finding their own in the days after the attacks was astonishing. I had been out of the business for more than a year but desperately wanted to help. I wanted to be a part of the scene. And at the same time I was very happy I was not….
Sure, we all wanted to find every last victim. But there was something different every time another first responder was found. Even from 2,000 miles away I could feel the emotion. The anguish. The relief. The sense of a commitment fulfilled. I wanted to be a part of it. And at the same time, I wanted to run from the images.
Today, it is still there. I did not expect to have the flood of emotions. After all, it’s been 11 years. But they came. They came pretty hard.
I can’t help but wonder – am I emotional because of what happened?
Or because I wasn’t a part of it?
Or because I know I can never be a part of it again?
While I am still treated like a Brother, I know it is not the same. I am no longer in the thick of it. And I feel bad. Weak. Tired. I gave up too easy. I didn’t fulfill my commitment….
I will continue to fight my inner battle. That is my commitment. It is the only commitment I can make.
But today, of all days….I thank my Brothers and Sisters for their commitment. To each other. To the public. To me…..