My memories of September 11, 2001
As I think back to all the emotion, anger, anxiety and frustration from that day and those that followed what I most remember is a long painful conversation with my oldest daughter. As we began our trip to the collapse site from our home base in Beverley all seemed ok. It was about 20 minutes into our drive when her call came. How do you explain to a 17 year old girl (daughter) that you are heading into what she considered a war zone, for all she knew in her young protected life that’s what it was? I remember Greg Crawford was driving one of the passenger vans and I was in the passenger seat tears in my eyes trying to convince my daughter that I would be OK, something none of us was sure of. We talked about things we never talked much about before as she now wanted to know what it was exactly that we did and were going to do. Why I felt the need to leave her and her sister at what she thought was an extremely dangerous time for everyone in our country. She thought my place was at home with family and not helping complete strangers. Again I had to convince her that Dad had chosen a career in which we go to work when other people are seeking shelter or escaping whatever danger we are called to secure. I just didn’t have the words to convince her that my place was helping those who needed us most and not at home with my children. To this day I am not sure I made the right choice. I think deep down she was more afraid for me than she was for herself. As divorce had taken its toll on the relationships I have with my daughters 9/11 brought us closer together. In the few years prior to 9/11 there weren’t many times my daughter told me she loved me and really meant it, however there were too many times to count that we said I love you to each other on that ride into hell.
As the work started for us my crew was assigned to the night shift which made communicating with my children difficult to say the least. I am thankful for her guidance counselor for allowing me to call during school hours and in turn calling her to his office so we could speak daily. By the way this call from her dad working the WTC site made her the envy of more than a few of her fellow classmates.
Once we returned her principle approached her to see if I would speak at their High Schools candlelight vigil, of course I said yes and again she was an important girl in class. I also am thankful to my brother FF’s from my shift in New Bedford. The members of Ladder one for climbing the ladder and all holding candles, Engine One and Rescue One for standing atop their truck holding an American flag as I spoke of time and the families of our brothers of FDNY who gave their lives and the families they left behind. There wasn’t a sound while I spoke as again tears built in my eyes thinking that someone could have been saying those things about me or others like me and it could be my kids or any of ours left parentless. I completed my short speech which seemed to last forever and quickly found my daughters to just hug them and assure them that it would all be ok.
In the years that past I was able to return to the WTC site with my youngest daughter and stepdaughter on a church trip. I was able to explain a lot about those early days and what our task force experienced. I was amazed at how interested these young children were when it came to the details of what we do as members of a US&R team and why we choose to be FF’s and volunteers who would leave their families to go help complete strangers. I told the story of my drive to the site and the talks with my oldest daughter. When I caught the eye of my youngest daughter and step daughter I could see how proud they were of me and how the other kids looked at them because I was their dad. I knew then why I do what I do, why we all do what we do. We thrive on the feeling we get when we help someone in need, we thrive on those we love being proud of us, and the way we feel when we make a difference in a complete strangers life.
So while I have many sad feelings about 9/11 they are silenced by the fact that such a horrible event has brought me closer to my children. We should hug our loved ones everyday like it will be our last just because you never know…
Always keep in our prayers the families of those who risked and lost everything, including the passengers of flight 93 for not allowing more terror to rain down on us, and the men and women of the armed forces who risk their lives daily to protect a freedom we often take for granted.
Thank you for allowing me to be a proud member of MATF1
Dennis E. Macedo