A birthday gift

April 12, 2013

Today, during a monsoon-like downpour, I had a meeting in a local Firehouse Academy. Yes, sometimes my job takes me to very interesting (and different!) places.

In this gathering, I was surrounded my federal employees and law enforcement. I was a bit intimidated to not have my happy cohort of NGO ‘do-gooder’s with me, and the fact that it the material seemed too removed from my work.

And with no connection to this point, I nearly went home in tears.

***

Three hours into our meeting, a police chief stood up to tell us about his area’s safety measures. He spoke of the town he covers and how he tries to make it family-oriented. It also spoke of the need for coordination in safety efforts, which lead him to an example of an experience where chaos ruled the day. September 11th.

I sat in awe as this man spoke of his efforts in protecting his charge, which is barely 5 miles from Manhattan. He also revealed an abated tragedy  from that day that most of the public has I never heard about. In sharing these moments, it was clear that the lack of man-power for the heightened policing that needed to happen on that Tuesday morning was serious.

Then, it clicked.

This man helped in my dad’s safety that day.

As he continued to speak, he mentioned a satellite facility for my dad’s employer. A place where my dad spent five days once he left lower Manhattan, on September 12th after sleeping  under his desk. He was just 3 blocks away from Ground Zero, feeling the blasts on the 13th floor.

It was nearly a week before I saw my father – and this man had helped keep him safe.

Today, was no ordinary day. I continued to listen, trying not to tear up as I heard how committed this leader is to his community and their safety.

***

Today, twelve years later,  I met one of the thousand of heroes from that day. Better yet, I got to look into his eyes, shake his hand, and from the bottom of my heart express my gratitude. For his actions a decade ago have played a role in today, my dad’s birthday.

 

What a most amazing gift.

 

Cheers to you Dad, on your birthday. And thank you Chief M.

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4 responses

  1. Thanks for sharing Kate. Reminders of 9/11 always awaken deep seated emotions. I remain in awe at the many selfless souls who thought only of saving and protecting others during that surreal time. The wonderful feeling of security that was present at our NJ site was a true blessing.

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