A few years later, I was talking to a friend back east who is a former EMT and volunteer firefighter and spoke about interest in EMT. Memories of losing a friend flooded a speech that hit hard thinking back to that deep disturbed feeling inside when the towers fell on 9/11/2001.
Officer Richard Rodrigues of the NY/NJ Port Authority is a long-time friend of my friend. I remember him from long before he was an officer, as a volunteer member of the Perth Amboy First Aid Squad in NJ. I sometimes hung out at the squad, helping with fundraisers, a disaster drill and some touch-up painting of letters on the ambulances. My friend talked about how Richard got the nickname “Pockets”. When he was a rookie on the squad, he would stand around and watch before jumping in once he felt comfortable, but did so with his hands in his pockets. It became a private joke among his closest friends on the squad.
9/11/2001 was Richard’s day off, but he stopped by Port Authority to talk about something personal. The call came in about the first plane crash into the WTC and Richard went with his colleagues answering the call. This man went above, and beyond the call of duty. He did not make it out alive.
For most people in this country, 9/11 is a patriotic remembrance and a man’s assassination later drew cheers. For some, it is a day of grief and a man’s assassination fell short of justice for the near 3,000 lives he murdered. For those some, these are family and friends and, many put themselves in the line of danger to save the thousands more lives we could have lost only for some to end up pulling their own out of the rubble.
Even several months after the attack, a family member who is now a retired officer, spent months sifting through debris brought to the Staten Island dump to aid seeking the remains of victims to “bring closure to their families”, as he put. He is ill from these efforts. 9/11 hits very close to home.
This day belongs to the rescue workers…EMTs, fire fighters, police, nurses, doctors and every volunteer to get their hands (and paws) dirty in any rescue effort.
Below is a link to the “Hero Dogs of 9/11” and a special tribute to Sirius, Port Authority’s bomb sniffer, the 38th officer Port Authority lost on 9/11/2001.