Tuesday, 20 August 2013 22:03

Anniversary of 9/11 is fast approaching

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Just around the corner we will be remembering 9/11. On Sept 11, 2001 19 men trained by al-Qaeda carried out a coordinated terrorist attack on the United States that had been planned for years. The attackers simultaneously hijacked four large passenger aircraft with the intention of crashing them into major landmarks in the United States, inflicting as much death and destruction as possible. Three of the planes struck their targets; the fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. In a single day, these deliberate acts of mass murder killed nearly 3,000 human beings from many countries. More than 400 of the dead were first responders, including New York City firefighters, police officers, and EMTs. It was one of the most-covered media events in history, and after a decade, the images are still difficult to view. These attacks and the global reaction to them have profoundly shaped the world we live in, so it remains important to see the images and remember just what happened on that dark day. A single picture can speaks volumes. It can evoke memories from that day – it makes you remember where you were, what you were doing. It can also bring healing and make you remember why we love this county so much.

One picture that has circulated since 2010 still speaks depths in our continued healing process and remembrance of those who gave all. It also shows that we need to teach our children that we can and will heal.

It all goes back to the days and weeks following the horrible fate of 9/11. A Torrance California firefighter, Dennis Costello, Along with 32 of his Torrance Firefighter brothers traveled to New York in a show of support for the Fire Deparmet of New York. They heard that there were very few uniformed Fire service personnel attending the funerals for the fallen members. This was due to the fact that "All Hands" were still actively involved in body recovery operations down at ground zero. They split their group up in order to show a uniformed presence at 4 funerals over a 3 day period. One particular funeral at St. Patricks Cathedral was for Captain Vincent Halloran. At the service 3 of his sons were alter boys and his wife was pregnant, expecting their 4th son. In the uniformed engine procession following the service was FDNY Engine 288 from Queens. This crew was the single hardest hit firehouse in New York which lost more that day in their history, They lost 18 Firefighters. This journey forever changed Dennis’ life. On 9/11/2010 He had the privilege to participate in a Memorial service in Long Beach California. At that service there were 343 small white crosses. Each cross carried a single name of all 343 FDNY Firefighters who were murdered on 9/11. Dennis’s part was to march out into the middle of the 343 crosses and play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes to help mark the Opening ceremonies. His que was to begin a slow march out into the crosses upon the completion of the song America the Beautiful which was sung by a woman's Glee club based in Long Beach. Dennis was ready, warmed up and was hiding behind two Long Beach Fire Dep't. Engines awaiting his que. His son Sean who was 4 at the time was told to stay with "Mommy" and wait until Daddy was done playing the pipes. As I began to play between the Engines and a slow march out into the crosses, his son Sean decided to follow him out. When he turned "left face" and entered the crosses it was too late, he realized that the blonde haired blue eyed little boy in a kilt Sean followed him in. His son had been waving an American flag all morning and was a FDNY tee-shirt in show of support. As Dennis finished playing Amazing Grace he was positioned in front of the Women's Glee club and brought up a slow hand salute and that is when the photo was taken. What we teach our children is what they pass on. Dennis clearly taught his son that love of country, honoring those who sacrifice and never forgetting is key to being a true and good American.

We must remember There are many first responders who go beyond their domestic call to duty and volunteer to serve in our Nation's National Guard and/or Reserve. These selfless servants have served with distinction during the past 12+ years of conflict in both Iraq and Afghanistan; while maintaining our security both home and on distant battlefields; by fighting the "away game". Many of these volunteer service members are on the rolls of those killed and/or wounded in action. ¶ So today, while you go about your daily business -- take a moment to remember those who put their civilian lives on hold to SERVE! Remember them and their families who take pride and honor is defending our freedoms abroad. Take a special moment to remember those who have lost their lives defending that freedom and please remember that freedom is NOT free -- those that serve in our National Guard and Reserves are more than "weekend warriors", they are a vital link to our national security apparatus and they are proud to serve! They wear both uniforms with pride and honor...and live out MacArthur's motto: Duty, Honor, Country!