Three Hundred and Forty Three
For many people, today will be spent mourning. There will people who mourn the loss of a loved one and there will be people who weep for the lives laid down in order to protect the loved ones they are fortunate to have with them today.
I too will spend some time mourning today; not because I had a member of my family or a friend perish 11 years ago but rather because how the sacrifice of 343 firefighters is remembered by all of us, myself included.
Being a firefighter, I comprehend the sacrifice that 343 of my Brothers gave in order to save God’s gift…life. As a firefighter, I carry a remembrance to all of my fallen brothers on my right shoulder. The ink that covers my skin resembles that of our shield, a Maltese cross, with the tools of our trade within. Enscribed around the outer edge, in Latin, is, “Semper Paratus, Diligens, Fidelis”. These words serve as a constant reminder to me so that I always remain prepared, diligent and faithful.
However, marking one’s skin shouldn’t be the end. We must honor those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice with how we cherish life. The way we go about our day is a direct reflection on all of them. Do not allow the thought of a son saying his prayers alone or the daughter celebrating straight A’s with just her mother change how you live your life…they don’t.
In all honesty, Firefighters are cocky. The very nature of the job requires it. Without a healthy amount of ego, the invincibility we believe to we possess disappears and running into burning buildings or climbing into a car after an accident to remove the body of a child becomes damn-near impossible. Yet, there is not one firefighter that I know who doesn’t carry those moments of fear with them. There is not a firefighter I respect that counts the number of lives he or she have saved. The brothers who I respect the most count only those who they could not reach in time.
For this reason, I believe that the lone lit candle on a porch on in a window is so moving to me. What is more acceptable to honor the 343 fallen than a flame? At services to honor the memory of fallen firefighters, there is a tradition of ringing the bell (much like the ones that single these heroes to duty) as the last alarm. I don’t want to think that is the final method of rememberance. Therefore, I will have a solitary lit candle on my porch once a week in honor of the Brave.
Henry David Thoreau once said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” These words should guide us from here on out in regards to remembrance this day. Live the life you’ve always wanted. Do not mistake my meaning…never forget that tragic day. Rather, live your life understanding that the terrorists of September 11th, 2001 (like all terrorists) failed. What they sought to destroy, the American Spirit, become stronger from the sacrifice of 343.
The views expressed herein are those of the author do not represent the positions of HoosierAccess, any other contributor or any employer. Check him out on twitter by searching @rkburgess