The morning of September 11, 2001 I was holding my son, who had woken up to be fed just before 0600 hrs. It was a morning, just like any morning. I turned on the television as I was burping him. I began witnessing the live feed of the New York City World Trade Center Twin Towers attacks. I just watched United Flight 175 crash into south tower of the World Trade Center. It was a surreal moment, holding my 10-month-old son and watching a life ending and changing event for many. After that day, the fire service vowed to “Never Forget” the 343 FDNY firefighters who perished that day. Unfortunately, 177 members of the FDNY firefighters have since succumbed to illness from the World Trade Center response.
I want to ensure the communities who are served by the women and men of the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District that we have not forgotten. I wanted to share some thoughts and experiences I have had since that day.
I was fortunate to visit the Mid-Town FDNY Fire Station to donate monies, from my previous community, to the families of 9 of the 343 FDNY firefighters that lost their lives at the World Trade Center Twin Towers. Five members of our department sat and visited with the FDNY Firefighters from Engine 8, Ladder 2, and Battalion 8. They were gracious and thankful for the donation, visit and commitment of firefighters and their communities who all reached out to them. They wanted people to know that it was important for people to live their lives to the fullest; moreover, they noticed people were nicer to each other, more thoughtful and caring.
The next year, our local semi-pro baseball team season began. The owners of the Chico Heat wanted to have an FDNY member throw out the first pitch. I was honored to be the liaison between the Chico Heat and FDNY to coordinate sending two FDNY members from Engine 8, Ladder 2 to Chico to have them throw out the first pitch. Upon arrival, I was assigned to the two FDNY firefighters as a host to ensure they were taking care of logistically and ensure their visit was a positive one. Again, they reiterated the importance of how life is special, to cherish what you have and enjoying each day. The FDNY firefighters got to visit and experience a small community that cares about their firefighters and how the community is proud of where they live.
That same community feeling is what I have experienced here in the Aptos/La Selva area for the past four and half months. This community does care about their firefighters as well as each other and does get involved with life. The community members here are proud of enjoying each day. Furthermore, the Aptos/La Selva community enjoys the natural beauty here in our community and welcomes those who visit to enjoy our community. Therefore, I think we are living the life that the FDNY firefighters hoped we would after the tragedy on September 11, 2001. Never forgetting should honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but for me that sacrifice should not go without forgetting how special each day is.
I am grateful to be the Fire Chief for the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District and the community we protect.