As we approach the 20th anniversary of the devastating events of Sept. 11, 2001, I think about the magnitude of that day. For anyone old enough to remember where they were and how it felt when they realized what was happening, it will always be that day. That day that was searing and jarring to the core. That day that was filled with human loss. That day we all became victims.
That day that will never be forgotten.
From the passengers on the planes to the employees in the towers and at the Pentagon to the heroes who charged in when others were desperately trying to get out — it is their stories that must continue to be told and their lives that we must continue to honor. It was that day that citizens, firefighters, police officers, EMTs and more became heroes. And it is important and essential that we honor their heroism.
On Sept. 11, I remember waking up and learning of the horrors that had transpired. At the time, I was a fire alarm dispatcher for the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) Bureau of Communications, Fire Dispatch Operations. As soon as I heard the news, I reported to the Brooklyn Communications Office. Along with dozens of fellow dispatchers, supervisors and chief dispatchers, we worked to coordinate the response to the twin towers, a massive mutual aid response, and the aftermath. I had the chance to personally see ordinary people turn into heroes.
Reflecting on that day, I think about the fact that 20 years means millions of adults who don’t have memories of the tragedy. They most certainly learned the details in school or from parents, but I wonder how many know how people responded and served in so many ways without regard to nationality, religion, occupation or politics. People came together. They rescued fellow human beings, fed and supported stranded travelers, helped the injured and more. We were all made to feel just a little better and comforted because of what we saw in each other.
When recalling that day, we first and foremost should remember those whose lives were stolen. However, let’s also remember the love, kindness and heroism that defined our response to those horrifying events. Our collective concern and compassion for our fellow citizens was on full display and a reminder that there is good in people.
Christopher Blake Carver served in the FDNY Bureau of Communications, Fire Dispatch Operations from 2000-2015. As a fire alarm dispatcher, he reported to work on Sept. 11, 2001 in the Brooklyn Communications Office. He dedicates this writing to the many women and men he worked alongside, in the field and in the communications center, on that day and the many hard and trying days following.
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