August 24, 2007

September 11 flashback

I'm sure that even outside of New York, everyone has heard about the two firefighters killed in the recent fire at the Deutschebank building downtown. This was the building that was rendered uninhabitable as a result of the 9/11 attacks. It caught fire and two men died trying to put it out.

Today, I was walking up Fifth Avenue for lunch at a very grand private club on 5th when I started to run into groups of firemen in their dress uniforms. I knew, immediately, that today must be a funeral day at St. Patrick's Cathedral for one of the men killed downtown. The firemen milled about, in groups, smoking cigarettes, looking somber, some of them holding their children. It was very hot and not a lot of air was moving. The crowds grew thicker the closer to St. Patrick's I got. And there it was in front of the Cathedral: a firetruck hung with purple and black bunting for use as a hearse to take the coffin away for burial.

I stopped walking and, buffeted by those trying to get around me, just stood there and stared, stood there and remembered all of the 9/11 funerals when, for days and day after day, a similar truck was parked in front of the Cathedral. Some days, I would see women dressed in black holding hands with small children. Other days, just the truck, standing sentinel, waiting to carry its sometimes empty, sometimes full, coffin. It was a horrible flashback moment.

I stood, heedless of the time, and listened to the funeral remarks as they were delivered by a friend of the deceased. He was moving and the remarks touching. He even joked about the deceased's ability to spot an attractive woman from the fire truck at a thousand yards, in thick fog, and at night. I chuckled and with that little bit of laughter, the spell was broken.

As the crowd inside clapped at the conclusion, I smiled and turned to walk on.

The death was similar, the circumstances similar, but the difference I cannot express.

Thank god for our brave firemen.

Posted by Random Penseur at August 24, 2007 03:43 PM | TrackBack

This was very poignant, RP. Thank you. :)

Posted by: Amber at August 25, 2007 10:08 AM
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