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9/19/2017 7:27:10 PM
Posted: 10/5/2001 10:51:32 PM EDT
Ronald Reagan's favorite speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, writes of the firemen ([u]not[/u] firefighters, as she says, for they were all men) that perished in the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Check out her commentary at: [url]http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=95001272[/url] From the article - and if you have any tears left in you after these past days, be prepared to shed them now! - [i]Three hundred firemen[/i]. This is the part that reorders your mind when you think of it. For most of the 5,000 dead were there--they just happened to be there, in the buildings, at their desks or selling coffee or returning e-mail. [u]But the 300 didn't happen to be there, they went there[/u]. In the now-famous phrase, they ran into the burning building and not out of the burning building. They ran up the stairs, not down, they went into it and not out of it. They didn't flee, they charged. It was just before 9 a.m. and the shift was changing, but the outgoing shift raced to the towers and the incoming shift raced with them. That's one reason so many were there so quickly, and the losses were so heavy. Because no one went home. [u]They all came[/u]. It's that what the New York Fire Department did--what those men did on that brilliant blue day in September--was like D-Day. It was daring and brilliant and brave, and the fact of it--the fact that they did it, charging into harm's way--changed the world we live in. They brought love into a story about hate--for only love will make you enter fire. Talk about your Greatest Generation--the greatest generation is the greatest pieces of any generation, and right now that is: them. So it was like D-Day, but it was also like the charge of the Light Brigade. Into the tower of death strode the three hundred. And though we continue to need reporters to tell us all the facts, to find out the stories of what the firemen did in those towers, and though reporters have done a wonderful, profoundly appreciative job of that, what we need most now is different. We need a poet. We need a writer of ballads and song to capture what happened there as the big men in big black rubber coats and big boots and hard peaked hats lugged 50 and 100 pounds of gear up into the horror and heat, charging upward, going up so sure, calm and fast--so humorously, some of them, cracking mild jokes--that some of the people on the stairwell next to them, going down, trying to escape, couldn't help but stop and turn and say, "Thank you," and "Be careful, son," and some of them took pictures. I have one. On the day after the horror, when the first photos of what happened inside the towers were posted on the Internet, I went to them. And one was so eloquent--a black-and-white picture that was almost a blur: a big, black-clad back heading upward in the dark, and on his back, in shaky double-vision letters because the person taking the picture was shaking, it said "Byrne." - continued -
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 10:52:10 PM EDT
Just Byrne. But it suggested to me a world. An Irish kid from Brooklyn, where a lot of the Byrnes settled when they arrived in America. Now he lives maybe on Long Island, in Massapequa or Huntington. Maybe third-generation American, maybe in his 30s, grew up in the '70s when America was getting crazy, but became what his father might have been, maybe was: a fireman. I printed copies of the picture, and my brother found the fireman's face and first name in the paper. His name was Patrick Byrne. He was among the missing. Patrick Byrne was my grandfather's name, and is my cousin's name. I showed it to my son and said, "Never forget this--ever." They deserve a poet, and a poem. At the very least a monument. I enjoy the talk about building it bigger, higher, better and maybe we'll do that. But I'm one of those who thinks: Make it a memory. The pieces of the towers that are left, that still stand, look like pieces of a cathedral. Keep some of it. Make it part of a memorial. And at the center of it--not a part of it but at the heart of it--bronze statues of firemen looking up with awe and resolution at what they faced. And have them grabbing their helmets and gear as if they were running toward it, as if they are running in. Eric The(PardonMe,MyHeartIsInManhattan,AndIMustPau­se'TilItComesBackToMe)Hun[>]:)]
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 11:53:54 PM EDT
btt...
Link Posted: 10/6/2001 1:31:46 PM EDT
Thanks for posting this.
Link Posted: 10/7/2001 8:08:43 AM EDT
It is amazing how many of the firemen were Roman Catholic. GunLvr
Link Posted: 10/7/2001 8:24:36 AM EDT
Every time I read this story (go to the site and read the WHOLE version, it's even better!), I cry like a little schoolgirl. It's [u]so[/u] much like America, that our heroes are not kings and princes, not presidents and generals, but amazingly ordinary people - SUPERHEROES, only without any superpowers. We [u]know[/u] how Superman would have handled it, with his incredible superhuman strength, he would have rushed into the burning buildings, etc., etc., etc. But now we know how our own [u]Supermen[/u] do it, they rush into the buildings to help others with nothing but their own ordinary human strength and wits! Oh, yeah, and their [u]superhuman[/u] hearts! Eric The(SupermanWoreAFireman'sHelmetThatDay!)Hun[­>]:)]
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