As the anniversary of 9/11 comes it always brings a flood of emotions. Even though my life has been the love of the farm & ranch life I have had the opportunity to have the three greatest jobs that anyone can have in life. I have spent many hours on a tractor and in the saddle and know the wonder and quiet of the country. I have been on stage and have people clap for the things that I sing, recite, or talk about, and I have been a firefighter/emt.
In two of the three vocations there is a lot of reality and you have to seperate out feelings in order to sometimes get the job done. In the other you have to bare your soul and release emotion to do justice to the material and the expectations of those you entertain.
On the fire department I found that helping people was a particularly sticky job at times because you deal with people at their best and worst. Things you see are like the soldier, things that no human should see. You deal with emotions by building baracades and developing goofy senses of humor. The one thing that you find on the inside of the service is the brotherhood. It is something that is there no matter what happens. Even after moving on to other things it is still there. There is no such thing as a retired or former firefighter we are just off duty.
Even after health problems stop me from even the concept of picking up a hose and going after the flames the urge is still there. When there is smoke in these hills, which is generally not a good thing, the desire is to jump in the truck and go towards it. Seeing a fire truck or an old fire truck turns my head as quick as an attractive woman.
I was watching the Today Show on September 11, 2001. The word came in that something was happening at the World Trade Center and they turned on the roof camera. As the seeming accident was attracting so much attention I watched the second plane, live, crash into the second tower. And then the reports of the Pentagon and another airline crash. It was no leap to assume that we were under attack.
It takes me back to the same program a few years earlier when the Today Show mentioned that something happened in Oklahoma City. As the unknown explosion turned into a massive incident I was watching live. The call went out for assistance from medical and fire personnel from anywhere remotely close. I almost packed up my kit and went there, that same pull.
Though not superstitous there is on thing that haunts me to this day. As the buildings came crashing down and I yelled that the firefighters are still in there, the eventual number chills my spine. I lived on 343rd street west for 32 years, the number of firefighters killed was 343. Some coincidences bother you wether they should or not.
I have had other people say in the past that they cannot understand the instinct of a firefighter to run into or upon something that everyone else, or anyone in their right mind, runs away from. I cannot explain it, it is just a part of what we are.
As long as I live the haunting of watching 343 brothers perish will always affect me. Luckily I have been able to let emotions do what they are intended to do. And the brotherhood is still as real to me as the day I recieved the badge and threw my coat, boots, and helmet on the fire engine.