I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter.
Not that the other service jobs are bad, but there is something right about this one. Growing up, three of my uncles were NYPD officers, one even a captain offered a chief position, but it was my cousins in the firehouse down the block that intrigued me more. When I was a kid, there wasn’t anything better than the shiny red engine going down the street with the bell ringing or trying on the helmet and coat that were 30 sizes too big or the stereotypical Dalmatian riding shotgun, but it goes beyond that.
Even before I was old enough to admit it, I surreptitiously rooted for the FDNY at the annual FDNY/NYPD hockey, softball and football games. The sound of a siren makes my heart race in a good way, and I LOVED Backdraft AND Ladder 49. (Don’t get me started on how awesome the first two seasons of Rescue Me were). But it goes beyond that.
I’ve always liked the fact there are no guns. I’ve never been a fan of guns. I found out while I was a Webelo Scout that I could shoot really well, but I never had an interest in honing that skill. It seemed like an impediment – a wall of some kind that is instinctively put up between the person with a gun and the person without. Or even TWO walls when both people have guns. (Granted, there are some instances in which guns serve a purpose, but that is a different conversation.) But it goes beyond that.
There is some kind of honor, a clarity, a higher calling, a true vocation to selflessly put yourself in harm’s way for another human being, whom you most likely never have met before. There are so many pictures around the internet of firefighters with kids, elderly people, men, women, cats, dogs in their arms, carrying them to safety. There are so many pictures around the internet of firefighters with faces blackened by smoke, in hospital beds, or trucks crushed by falling debris. There are so many pictures of funerals, with trucks and firefighters from all over the country and even all over the world, full of brothers (and sisters) who want to honor the fallen if there is ever any fallen. There are even one or two pictures of the actor Steve Buschemi putting on his boots and coat and hiding from the paparazzi as he ran in and out of Tower Two.
My mom once said she was happy I never became a Firefighter, cause I would have run into the building and might never have come out. That is one of the nicest compliments I have ever gotten.
Now that I’m old(er) and (slightly) out of shape I can merely watch from the sidelines and root for The Bravest in the games of football, soccer, hockey, and life.
And say thank you.