9/11 Remembered: The Firefighter

9/11 Remembered: The Firefighter

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(On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Tales Told From The Road ran stories from its readers and other sources about their experiences traveling in the days surrounding 9/11. Over the coming days we will re-run many of those stories to commemorate a day in the history of the United States and the world that will long be remembered.)

“9/11 Remembered: The Firefighter” By Patricia Bracewell

In April of 2004 when I made my first trip to New York City. I was staying in a Chelsea hotel that had a cooking school on a lower floor, and one evening I met a culinary student who stopped in the lounge for a beer after his class. His name was Tom. He was 41 years old, muscular and tall, with a bald head and a goatee. He was taking the culinary course because he needed a new career.

(Pixabay Photo)

He told me that he had been a New York City firefighter—a first responder to the events of 9/11. His lungs had been damaged that day, and for physical, mental and emotional reasons, he was preparing to leave New York City. A lot of guys have these problems, he said, and are seeing shrinks regularly.

We’ve been forgotten, he mused. America has forgotten New York’s tragedy.

Tom’s lung damage meant that he could no longer be a firefighter. He had been a helicopter pilot once, but he could not do that either, because of the medications he was taking. He wasn’t bitter or complaining—just stating the facts. He said he felt lucky. He had a wonderful wife and great kids. He would be moving them to Florida in hopes that the heat and humidity would help his lungs.

A few days later I stood at the World Trade Center site. On one side a building damaged in the WTC collapse stood battered and abandoned, its windows gaping. The chain link fence that surrounded the World Trade Center pit held flowers, notes and prayers.

We haven’t forgotten, I thought, but we aren’t paying as much attention as we should to those still suffering from the events of that day.

Patricia Bracewell’s 9/11 story was originally published by Tales Told From The Road on September 30, 2011.

She is the author of historical novels about a little-known English queen, Emma of Normandy.

The first book in the trilogy, Shadow On The Crown, was published in 2013 and its book launch was the subject of this short film produced for community TV station MarinTV in San Rafael, California, by Tales Told From The Road publisher, Dick Jordan.

The two met when both were members of Left Coast Writers, a group established to “support new and established writers in the production and promotion of their work in a stimulating atmosphere of creativity and community.”

The second book, The Price of Blood, came out in 2o15. The final book in the series, The Steel Beneath The Silk, will be published in Spring 2021.

(Tales Told From The Road will receive a small commission for purchases of Patricia Bracewell’s books made through the links on this page.)


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