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An Amazing Day At FDNY Rescue 2
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, my husband and I were privileged to sit among the bravest men, their wives and children that anyone would ever want to encounter. Our nephew, Firefighter Duane R. Wood, is among these men, who only can be called New York City’s Bravest.
A memorial service for the fallen heroes of the World Trade Center was held in a small firehouse in the center of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. It is a 25-by-90-foot, two-story building on a 25-by-117-foot lot. The building was built in 1921. It was one of 14 similarly constructed buildings, all with ornate wrought-iron railings on the roof. It originally housed horses.
This building now houses Rescue 2, FDNY, since July 1985. Being built in 1921, one can see the ravages of time with the old plaster walls and the creaky wooden staircase that leads to the second floor. There were no fancy ceremonial banners and pristine surroundings to impress dignitaries. There was nothing fancy here. Only lockers with firefighters’ gear, apparatus used in fighting fires and a huge diesel gas pump for fueling the fire truck. Mounted on one wall was an old roster board with names written in chalk of the eight men lost from Rescue 2 on that fateful day 10 years ago. I read the names one by one:
Deputy Chief Raymond Downey
Lieutenant Peter Martin
Firefighter William Lake
Firefighter Daniel Libretti
Firefighter John Napolitano
Firefighter Lincoln Quappe
Firefighter Kevin O’Rourke
Firefighter Edward Rall
As I sat there, I was amazed at the feeling in this building. One didn’t notice the surroundings, only the incredible warmth that was ever present. The camaraderie of the men who work here every day risking their lives for others. Looking around at all the men, all I could see was a spirit like no other on their faces – a determined spirit that only one of their own could know. They love who they are and what they stand for. They are firefighters, plain and simple. Their pride was brimming over in each handshake and smile to each other as well as the guests who were present.
After the Mass service in the firehouse, there was a buffet brunch waiting outside in the lot next to the building. The lot had large steel containers and tight wire ropes where the firefighters do some of their training. There were round tables with red-and-white canopies set up in case of rain. A few drops of rain started to fall, but the sky held the rain back so this affair could continue in comfort.
As we sat chatting with each other, a loud bell would sound and you could hear orders coming from command that some of the men were needed elsewhere. Dressed in full gear, these men automatically jumped into the fire truck and were off, leaving their plates of food behind.
Among the guests were firefighters from all over the country – Chicago, Dallas, Milwaukee and as far away as Australia – to mention a few. This was truly a day of firefighters, not politicians, media or the like. We were also more than privileged to be in the company of three Navy SEALS, whose bravery and courage are what keeps us all safe in the darkest hours. As I looked at them, I could only remember their own tragedy that just happened on Aug. 6, when 22 Navy SEALS were killed along with other U.S. military personnel when their helicopter was gunned down by Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
I walked over and shook hands with one of the SEALS and thanked him for his service. In that handshake, I could feel the steadfast resolve that makes the United States of America strong and unshakeable. I looked across at his wife and we exchanged smiles. I could see the pride on her face. I went back to the table where I was sitting and then in a few short minutes, that Navy SEAL in his black dress officer’s uniform had his young son hoisted on his shoulders with all the care that only a dad can do. It was almost impossible to hold back tears at that moment.