Editor’s note: Winnipeg firefighter Jay Shaw, a regular contributor to Fire Fighting in Canada, heads to New York City on Friday for the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Jay will blog regularly about this emotional journey.
Sept. 8, 2011
Winnipeg - I have been trying to research and plan just what to do when I’m in NYC. Ground Zero is a must, with as many visits to fire houses as I can get in to meet our brothers and hear their stories, if they will share.
Trying to obtain official 9-11 memorial plans has been painful, as releasing pertinent logistical information is not part of the security mindset of New York officials. I have been told by many that Ground Zero will be tighter than the White House on the 11th and that getting close will be impossible. I have a great interview lined up with the founder of Tribute World Trade Center – www.tributewtc.org – a retired firefighter who lost his son at Ground Zero. We have been invited to several rescue and engine companies in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, and we will attend the New York City Firefighter Brotherhood Foundation event called Brothers Meeting Brothers the night we arrive. This event has been organized for out-of-town firefighters who may not know the city or many members of the FDNY— a class act by the FDNY.
You may have heard that the city has notified its 11,000-plus firefighters that this Sept. 11 is for families of the victims, and dignitaries who will preside over official memorial events. CNN has reported that The City of New York has asked that firefighters not attend Ground Zero events. While this oversight may seem like a small issue to government types, I see it as a major insult to our family – the fire service family which, it could be argued, is a worldwide brotherhood. How do you exclude the very ones who, by some estimates, made the largest rescue in the history of the fire service as thousands of civilians were successfully evacuated from the towers? How do you dream of saying that while you are a firefighter and civil servant, you are not human, and therefore you are not equal in your right to grieve, and pay respects to the fallen?
We will be there at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, and I will promise you this: short of doing anything illegal, we will get as close to the events as possible. I have a feeling 11,000 other firefighters will be right there with us.