It took me awhile to post this, but I want to share my weekend in New York City. In September 2007 I went with my husband to NYC and we participated in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers run. My husbandís department and their families raised funds for the charities benefited by this run. Iím not sure if you all have heard of this event, but there were about 20,000 people who participated this year. Many departments come as a group and most wear matching department shirts or shirts in memory of someone in their department who lost their lives that day. I had been to NYC once before and visited ground zero, but this was before my husband became a FF, so the experience was a new one and from a totally different point of view now that Iím a fire fighterís wife.

On September 11th I remember sitting in front of the TV, as did millions of other people, watching the horrible events unfolding that day. I sat in disbelief of what was happening. Even though I was watching it, it was almost like it was a movie and not real. It was one of those moments in time where almost everyone knows exactly where they were and what they were doing at that exact moment. When I actually saw ground zero for the first time, it was a moment I will never forget. I imagined how the events unfolded, how the people felt, how loved ones felt, and how the FFs and other rescuers were running towards the buildings as everyone else was running away. It was a very somber moment for me and my family.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers run is an annual event that retraces the steps fire fighter Stephen Siller took on 09/11 as he was trying to get into the city to help in anyway he could. He couldnít drive into the city, so he parked outside the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which is where the run starts. The tunnel itself is one and three-quarters miles long. The tunnel is so hot and probably the hardest part of the run, but as you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (literally) there are hundreds and hundreds of FFs in their Class As lined up against the wall of the tunnel. They are each holding a flag with a picture of a NYC FF who lost their life that day. I looked into the eyes of each and every man pictured on the flags and thanked them for giving the ultimate sacrifice. I also thanked their families who also gave the ultimate sacrifice by losing their loved ones in this tragedy. It really was one of the most beautiful and touching moments Iíve ever experienced in my life. All the while, the men and women who are holding these flags are giving us high fives and encouraging us to keep it up. After you exit the tunnel, there were bands playing, children dancing, people singing, and music playing. There were adorable youngsters wearing little fire fighter outfits and holding American Flags.

Shortly after you leave the tunnel, you see the river with a fireboat spraying streams of water out all sides of the boat. It was such a beautiful site! As you finish the race, you run under two ladders extended high up into the air with an American Flag draped in between. When I finished, I didnít feel like I had just completed over three miles, but rather I felt privileged to have been there, proud of our fire fighters, proud of my husband, and proud to be an American!

After the race, we went to the church which is right next to where the twin towers used to be. It was used as a safe haven for FFs who needed a little rest or something to eat. Now, it is a shrine with lots of different memorabilia such as uniforms, patches from all over the world, pictures of missing people, letters to loved ones, and letters from the public expressing sorrow and thanks. When I stopped and looked around the church, there was hardly a dry eye there. You could really feel and imagine what everyone went through that day. You could picture a FF utterly exhausted sitting in the pew, but wanting to keep going in hopes of finding one of their own in the rubble.

After that, we headed over to a local pub that was packed with FFs from all over the world. A huge group of Australian FFs were there. I watched the FFs interact with each other. They share a bond that is almost impossible for me to put into words. You see it in how they look at each other, how they talk to each other, and just their overall demeanor. There is an unspoken truth that they would do anything for each other.

While we were in NYC, we also visited a couple firehouses. The NYFD was very gracious. They took time to speak with us and show us around their stations. Their stations were very different than what we have here. I think the most interesting thing was watching two FFs hop out of the truck to stop NYC rush-hour traffic, so the engineer could back the truck into the station. I was also amazed that you could hardly tell there was a fire station there. There are just a couple bay doors tucked into a very small section on the ground floor of a huge high-rise office building. We saw beautiful memorials inside the stations with pictures of the men who lost their lives that day. This is something they live with each and every day. It is their reminder to never forget the men who lost their lives that day.

I posted this because I wanted to share my experiences from my weekend in NYC. I especially want to personally thank each and every fire fighter and rescuer who was there on 09/11 and the days that followed. I also want to thank every single fire fighter in every town and city around the country for giving so much to your community. I think we, the public, tend to take you for granted, but you really are heroes. You teach our children about fire safety. Your respond to any emergency you are called on. You are there anytime of the day or night if needed. You do whatever it takes whenever you are needed. Again, thank you for all you do! We really do appreciate it!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a safe happy New Year!