It has been 7,889,760 minutes since 9:59am on September 11, 2001. It was on that clear, crisp, perfectly blue skied Tuesday September morning where blood from all nations was spilled on soil below where the Stars and Stripes flew for the first time since the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. My city, our nation, and everyone’s world was irrevocably changed.
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”–Rose Kennedy
It has been 15 years.
As the seconds tick on and the minutes pass us by the wound from that day get buried deeper and deeper… only to once again be given air to bleed out, as the twin beams of light ascend from the earth to the sky burning the scar tissue away.
It is important that we keep to the promises made on September 12, 2001 when we as a profession, as a people, and as a nation swore that we would #AlwaysRemember. We need to keep that promise.
As responders who were there become ill and join those who perished that day; as children who have known no world other than the one of constant terrorist threat grow older; as other socio-political issues circulate through the news cycle of the media; we need to ensure the events and the sacrifice that happened 15 years ago today is remembered. We need to do this in more than just speeches, ceremonies, prayers, and blog posts. We need to do this in our actions.
In the days, weeks, months, and years following September 11, 2001 there was a definite difference. Prior to that day providers would treat those belonging to adversarial agencies in a rude, belittling, embarrassing, and demeaning way that stopped after the events of September 11, 2001. It did not matter whether you were from a private agency, a hospital, or part of the municipality… the fact you were an EMT or Paramedic was what mattered. You were treated as part of that extended family regardless of your agency patch. The aggressive politics and business aspects were left to the administrators and managers. EMTs and Paramedics treated one another better, were kinder, and more helpful across the imaginary agency lines.
We lost that somewhere. It slipped back to the old adversarial ways, starting around 2006 or so. Ego, pride, and the false assertions that one agency was better than the others began to permeate once again. It spread, infecting those who were not responders that day first before spreading to those who watched the plume of smoke rise from the pile during those long September weeks.
We broke our promise.
Today is about remembering the conscious sacrifice made by one for another in their greatest time of need without regard for race, creed, political beliefs, or agency patch. Today is about remembering those who sacrificed 15 years ago, and those who have sacrificed through illness of all types since then, to keep the Tree of Liberty alive and well. Today is about remembering that while all sacrificed some… there are those who have sacrificed ALL.
I ask that you remember this today and leave everything else for one of the 364 other days in the year. I ask that you remember this today and treat everyone with the love and respect just for being a member of the EMS family regardless of the patches on their shoulder.
It has been 7,889,760 minutes since the South Tower of the World Trade Center at Liberty Street and West Street collapsed. I ask that you specifically remember the following nine Medics who perished in that collapse:
volunteer Zhe Zang
my friend Mario Santoro
my friend and vollie dispatcher Richard Pearlman
and my friend and partner Yamel Merino
Keep the promise today as you did 15 years ago.
Keep the promise tomorrow as you did today.