Today is a day of remembrance. I know that I probably don't need to tell any of you this but I've heard many people overseas saying that we're celebrating what happened a year ago.

We're not celebrating anything, other than MAYBE the resolve and resiliance our country has shown in the face of adversity. This coming day is a day of mourning.

Although I didn't know anyone that died in the WTC, I know of people like them. People don't understand that in becoming a FF , you become part of a brotherhood, and with the brotherhood comes a camraderie that can not be understood by the general public. You can find a common thread in another FF anywhere you go. That common thread being the want to help others.

Against popular belief, New York City is very much like every other city and town in the U.S. It is filled with families and friends. After 9/11 even the criminals and gang members were doing their part for the good of the nation. Everyone wanted to help in some way, and many found ways to help that were unique.

On my third night in NYC after 9/11 I sat down outside the Javits center to take a nap after a day of sorting donated medical supplies and treated various "walking wounded" FF's coming back from the WTC site. A man walked up and told me I had a room. I replied that I knew I could sleep in the Javits Center if I had wanted to. Little did I know that is not what the man meant. He had arranged for anyone from outside NYC that were volunteering to have a free room at the Hotel New Yorker. I stayed there several of the following nights, everynight allowing other FF's up to my room to take a hot shower and shake out their turnout gear. Almost psychically the concierge knew what I was doing and without prompting knocked on the door with extra towels and free t-shirts for the men showering.

I met a number of people in NYC that to this day I could not imagine counting whom I helped, and at the same time were helping me in their own way. For every thing you did for someone, someone else offered their services or goods to you. This is not a rare occurance or one time encounter, it is the backbone, the method in which a city, state and nation respond to a disaster. Under pressure, almost everyone in our nation felt the need to help. That is a way of life, a way of life that will never fade.

I can not say that I understand what the people who have lost are going through and it would be a great insult for me to presume that I do.

During the moments of silence today bow your heads in mourning for those that are gone. The firefighters, EMTs, friends, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children, brothers and sisters whose families mourn could very well be your own.

God Bless,
Ric Letson, EMT/FF

U.S. Air Force Aux. Medical Officer
Ft. Drum Composite Squadron