Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 Years Ago Today

Canon 30D
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Shutter Speed 2.5 Seconds
Aperture f/16.0
ISO 640
Manual Mode
Speed light

A very good friend of mine is a firefighter. It's his job to run into burning buildings and pull people out. He goes to the scenes of accidents before anyone else and dives right in doing his part to help. He even makes it a point to help people in need when he's not on duty. He does it for a living and yet I truly believe he lives to do it.

Today I've thought a lot about my friend and all the firefighters I've known. I have 2 cousins that are firefighters in Indianapolis. A very good friend of mine recently became a firefighter in South Dakota. My own brother is an aspiring firefighter. And while I was thinking about these guys something occurred to me that changed my feelings entirely. Society often elevates to immortal hero status those around us that do good and make us feel better. We also like to demonize the wrong doers and make them somehow less than human. It just makes it easier to love our heroes and hate our enemies. But the truth is that in both cases, hero or villain, they are just human, like you and I. They feel pain, happiness, loss, love, irritation, and elation. They have families with problems and skeletons in the closet, husbands and wives, children and dogs named Skippy. And precisely because they are so human, firefighters deserve our respect and admiration. Even though they stand to lose their families, feel immense pain, see unspeakable atrocities, and generally get involved with all the major turmoil the rest of humanity throws at each other, they choose to be there. They choose to be true first responders and run into buildings that have danger screaming from every wall. When the world makes no sense and chaos reigns they are there to start putting things right once more.

Nine years ago today, men flew passenger planes into The World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. These were men, human to the bone, performing an unbelievable act of terror. I will forever remember that day and so many of the details surrounding my setting. Where I was when I first heard and how I sat huddle next to a radio for most of the day. We all can tell similar tales. And we were glued to it because this was raw humanity at both it's darkest and finest hour. Those that chose to kill that day are not who I'm thinking about tonight. I'm thinking of those men and women that knew they were going to die and still chose to run into those places of absolute and unrelenting horror in the hopes that they could save 1 life. They were human, they were very mortal, they were heroes, and they still walk among us. And though 9/11 left a mark on my soul, I'm filled with faith and love of my fellow man knowing there are people like that out there, and I'm blessed enough to call several my friends.

This picture does not encompass what I'm feeling. I had hoped to try something a bit more profound and impactful. In the end, the simple image of a fire engine at night with lights blazing seems to reassure me that if I'm ever in need, they will be there for me, whatever time of day and no matter how dangerous. The same people that ran into The World Trade Center will come for me in my time of need. And that is humanity shining like a beacon.

I'll wrap it up by saying my friend that I mentioned initially is suffering tonight. Friday evening his father passed away after a lengthy struggle with cancer. It was a long hard battle and the family is emotionally drained. Please say some prayers and leave some words for him. He reads us everyday and it would mean a lot to hear some words of encouragement. After all, though he's a firefighter and a hero, he is very human, just like you and I.



  1. Scott, now that I've wiped the tear from my eye I want to repond to this post. You are so very right. We do not recognize the men and women that make up our fire fghting team enough. I've had to call on them and sure enough they were there in minutes making sure I was stable and getting me to the hopital safely. Never once did I feel unsure of the hands I was in. So here's to them.

    And secondly, to your friend, I am truly sorry for the loss of your father. After losing my father, mother and sister the best words I have are be strong, better days are to come. Tell stories and share memories, he will never truly be gone if you those.

  2. Thank you Scott.
    Touching as it should be. Very well articulated and heart felt.
    I'm sorry your friend is hurting. He's in my thoughts. Thank you to him for being the finest part of our society.

  3. Glad you liked it. My friend was really touched by it all and your words of comfort meant a lot. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I am so sorry for your friends loss. Words don't always help but I do wish for him to know that I am thinking about him and praying for him. And thanks go out to all the firefighters, policemen and first responders everywhere.

  5. Thank you for honoring an important day in a wonderful way. A moving photo and beautiful words.

  6. Mike my thoughts are with you and your family. You know he is at peace and pleased he has crossed over. Mike he is there for you 24/7 and you can talk to him anytime and his guideance will be there, believe me I know. Take care, see you soon.