There are phones ringing out with their trilling call. Elevators are reaching for the heavens with loads of people starting their daily life schedule. Footsteps fall on hallway floors, door click shut on offices. Fax machine whir, printers create pages of words and pictures soon to become useless shreds of debris……..there's a few faces who look out windows soon to become nonexistent, eyes trying to locate the screech piercing the air outside the World Trade Center and above the streets of New York.
Within seconds there is smoke, flames, and incomprehensible heat. Screams born from horror get lost only inches from the lips that released them amongst other screams rising from the masses. Through smoke and air that breathes like mud, feet run and stumble in an attempt to find any way out. Barely used stairwells reach maximum capacity in record timing on lower levels while the occupying items of the upper stairwells are quickly becoming toxic beyond survivable measures.
Sirens ring out fighting their way through traffic fleeing the opposite direction. Men and women wearing badges run towards a situation that does not show them any visions of a happy ending, yet they run faster than ever. One mission driving them all, save as many as they can. Flight after flight they fight. Upwards towards a Hell that will prove to be all consuming. Steel buckles and concrete crumbles. Groans, creaks, and screaming metal rings out.
We fast forward just a few hours and all is silent….there are no sirens, screams have fallen quiet. Our eyes fail to show us what's gone missing from the skyline of New York, they are cloaked in a blanket of dust and ash. At this one moment in time, billions of people and even America itself gasped for air only to take in panic, anger, and grief instead of calming fresh air.
We peel back the layers and the silence is slowly broken by alarms in the rubble. The PASS alarms echo in the depths, playing a song that none of us want to hear. The events are over but what took only hours to unfold on that day, still hurts today. 16 years have gone by. 16 years and we still do not have a final death count. We can't even try to figure out the death toll because even today, victims are still being claimed.
Tomorrow when you get up to start your day, look around. Look at your children, your spouse, your Mother or Father, Brother or Sister, Aunt or Uncle. Find your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers. Together I want you all to REMEMBER. 16 years ago we lost Fathers, Brothers, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Son's, Family. We lost Americans. Not lost as in misplaced but taken from us out of hatred. Ripped from our souls and left in only our memories. It only took hours, but I'm not sure if the pain can even be eased in a lifetime.
We honor those who we lost by “Never Forgetting”. I myself will never forget the way this changed my life, how these events changed ME. Tomorrow the world will wake up and resume a normal routine of events, however for those of us that REMEMBER, we will smell the smoke, hear the screams, and experience the emotions of that awful day.
For anyone who reads this that suffered a loss, you have all my sympathies and prayers. And to the 343 who gave it their all, you are beyond a simple page in a history book. You fall into a special group occupied by Heroes, and Legends.
Rest easy Brothers and enjoy your lives in Heaven, for you have served your time in Hell.
Gone but not forgotten
FDNY-343-May they RIP.
September 11th, 2001