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Tribute to September 11th Heroes

Posted on September 6, 2011 by Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines

FDNY firefighter standing next to apparatus

A New York City firefighter with Ladder Company 10 watches as a ladder truck is dispatched to an emergency call.

It is time once again to honor some very special Americans: the first responders, firefighters, law enforcement, and EMS personnel who exhibited such uncommon valor in the face of certain peril on September 11, 2001. We honor as well those American citizens who lost their lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington, D. C., and near Shanksville, PA, and their families and colleagues.

The men and women serving as firefighters, EMS providers, and law enforcement officers are special people. They provide the highest pinnacle of service to humanity. They don't ask - they serve. They don't talk - they act. They don't try to analyze all the angles and they don't think about personal gain. They are the people who provide for our safety.

These are people of courage. Their first act of courage doesn't begin with lights and sirens. Their first act of courage begins when they get up in the morning and put on their uniform and the badge. They do that every day. It's not always what they do that makes them every day heroes: it is the knowledge that they know what they may be called upon to do.

They have one very simple job description: they're expected to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the right stuff.

To those among us (me included) who get up in the morning, and don't have to put on that badge, I respectfully ask you to consider this: to those who provide for the public's safety, there is sweetness to life that the protected shall never know. It is the honor and privilege of wearing the badge and being depended upon to save a life that only the bravest enjoy. They aspire to come to the aid of others when no one else will.

We cannot forget September 11 and the sacrifice those great Americans made for us all. Quite honestly, I cannot think of anything or anyone more American than the American firefighter. We lost a national treasure. Their families lost the love and support of their loved one. We lost their service to this great country. I will never forget them and the sacrifice their families and comrades made on that day and continue to make every day.

But, we must continue on. We must commit to ensure we are the best prepared to prevent, respond to, and recover from future challenges such as those experienced on September 11, 2001.

I am proud to be a part of this very special profession. It is an honor for me to recognize these American heroes. We will not forget their valor and their sacrifice. I will also never forget those firefighters and officers who responded to and survived the events of September 11, 2001 and continue to wonder why they survived. The sacrifice these American heroes made on that day must be honored forever.

May God bless them and keep them safe and may God bless the United States of America.

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