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America's Journal
Friday, September 13th, 2002

Date:September 13th, 2002
Subject:from a firefighter's perspective...
Security:Public

you may also want to view the_bravest to see how we in public safety remembered....

before i write about how i spent 9/11, i wanted to talk about something that i noticed in passing while reviewing the entries on my friends list....with the exception of the_bravest, only perhaps one or two other people even made mention of having done anything in rememberance or observance of the events of 9/11. this is terribly distressing for me, and it should be for you, too. granted, i realize that people in public service are perhaps taking the day a little harder than the general public, but it's only because it could have been any firefighter, officer or paramedic that day, in that city, doing that job, which cost so many public servants their lives. it wasnt for fame, notariety, and god knows it wasn't for fortune. it was because there were people in trouble, and they needed help. we in public safety also felt the call, thus why firefighters from as far away as san fransisco came to lend assistance. regardless of what patch is sewn on to our uniforms, we are all brothers and sisters in the end, sworn to a common cause...to protect the public. you the public, whether you admit or not, treat civil servants like absolute trash. you call peace officers 'pigs'. you call firefighters 'axe welding cavemen'. yet you cry and whine when you find the slightest imperfection, and insist we are 'only' doing our jobs when we risk our lives to protect you, a person we've never met. so if not to remember the senseless loss of life that day, you, as a responsible citizen of your community, owe it to us in public safety to pause for a moment, or attend a service at a public safety memorial for us. we don't want your cookies, your cakes, or the media to sweat our nuts. we want you, john and jane public, to offer a heartfelt, unpublicized, unpoliticized, thank you...if you can't take time out of your ham-n-egger life to do that little thing, that makes you a pretty fucking lousy human being, and you aren't worth my time when your house catches fire, you pass out drunk, your kid falls on his head, or your stomach ache is suddenly an emergency at 3am. that said....

arrived in cincinnati around 5pm on the 10th and checked into the hotel. rested for a bit, then met shannan and brian for dinner at bravo's in mason....was good to see shannan again, and brian turned out to be a delightful fellow. shannan gave me bogus directions to get from my hotel to the resteraunt; wrong turn off 275, so she drew a map on our table to show me...(table was lined with butcher paper for drawing, complete with crayons). returned to the hotel for a quick nap, and caught a bit of report from ground zero on abc. before i left columbus, i learned that cincinnati's iaff local 48 would be having a ceremony at the union fire memorial near 6th & central, including a honor guard posting from midnight on 9/11 to midnight on 9/12. after waking up an engine crew in quarters for directions, i arrived at the memorial just as the first honor guard was taking their post. i don't think i've seen a more emotional memorial ever. the memorial itself is a poreclain statue of a firefighter in turnout standing watch, beneath him is a granite stone with the firefighter's prayer. on the lawn surrounding the memorial, local 48's members had placed 343 white wooden crosses, each with the name of an fdny member lost that day. perhaps the most emotional sight of the night was of the crosses bearing the name joseph angelini, one senior from rescue1, one junior from ladder4...a father and his son...headed back to the hotel- went to bed around 2am; finally fell asleep around 4 after some tossing and turning....

woke up around 6 to get dressed and emotionally prepare for the day ahead...quick breakfast at burger king, then headed to loveland-symmes for the first service of the day. we met at castle skateland and formed into line. there were perhaps 300 uniformed personnel marching, and another 10 or so fully staffed trucks, so a pretty good turnout...i marched along side a norfolk & southern railways officer based in cincinnati...very pleasant fellow...he told me of his agencies lengendary battles with the capone clan during chicago's prohibition era...the procession was around two miles long, and passed by several schools, most of whose kids clapped for us as we walked by. we also each had an american flag bearing the name of a member of the nypd, papd, or fdny lost that day. we arrived at the loveland-symmes memorial site and heard words of encouragement from lsfd battalion chief billy goldfeder, a native of long island, and honorary battalion chief of fdny. he told us the story of the ielpi family...lee, a retired jake from rescue 2, his son john from squad288, and another son, jimmy, from ladder 157. lee and jimmy worked daily to bring john home, until he was found in march of this year...a Lt. from engine 206 and a firefighter from engine 294 also spoke, along with state fire marshall robert rielage. also honored was usar ohio task force I,who worked at ground zero several weeks...i decided not to listen to the politicians speak, so l went back to the hotel to rest for a bit...


woke up around 3:30, and drove to the local 48 union memorial again, where i was met by members, including the union local president, who invited me to march with them at 7:30; i gladly accepted...met with them for a beer at a local hangout in fountain square, then drove to the northern kentucky convention center in covington, where about 400 tri-state area firefighters and paramedics and their families were lining up for a 2 mile procession which would take us to the covington fallen peave officers memorial, across the cincinnati suspension bridge which crossed the ohio river, then up 3rd street to local 48's memorial, then to fountain square for a televised memorial. we were again led by the hamilton county fife and drums, but also by three other pipe and drum cores and about half a dozen honor guards from local police and fire agencies...we walked under a giant us flag held up by covington fire's truck 1 and hebron's tower 360, just before we came across the suspension bridge...it was one of the most breathtaking thing i had ever seen; the cincinnati skyline with an american flag proudly waving in front...the flag caught a breeze and almost extended a hand to us as we came across the bridge. when we came off the bridge, we walked under another flag, held by two cincinnati truck companies, then down pete rose way to paul brown stadium, then up 3rd street. downtown traffic stopped as the fife and drummers played proudly...after we marched by the local48 memorial, we went by cincinnati's main station which houses an engine, truck, rescue, district chief and medic...i nearly cried to see each rig pulled out onto the ramp, lights flashing and sirens blaring with each firefighter and officer at attention, just as each member was at the four trucks we passed on either side of the bridge. when we finally made it to fountain square, the sea of people parted as each uniformed member came to the forefront for the service....a cincinnati firefighter sang america the beautiful and the hamilton co sheriff fife and drum played amazing grace, which brought me to tears as we all saluted at attention...even saw a little baby with his father's class A hat on saluting his little hand...thats what our service means to me.

lest we forget our fallen....

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