Friday, September 11, 2009


Eleven years ago one Sunday morning, I was assisting with the children’s ministry at church. All the kids were gathered for a special event: a visit from a real firefighter. One of our pastors was a career man, and he came to talk to the kids about fire safety.

At the end of the visit, he discussed the scariest scenario: being trapped in a burning building. As he spoke, he began putting on all his protective gear, from pants and boots to coat, gloves, helmet, and finally, the mask. With each item, he continued to speak, especially to the younger children, and said, “Remember, under all this gear, it’s still me.” Of course, to a young child, each item made him look less like the gentle, smiling man that he is, and more like some unfamiliar and frightening creature. With the mask finally on, his face was nearly unrecognizable, as was his voice. He said once again, half shouting to be understood through the muffling, smoke-proof face protector, “You see, it’s still me in here. If you find yourself trapped in a fire, get down low, and look for me. When I come for you, I’ll look like this, so don’t be afraid. When I reach for you as you’re hiding behind a desk or under your bed, don’t pull away. Remember that it’s me. With all the noises and smoke around you, you may not be able to hear me clearly or see my face at all, but it’s still me. When you see this uniform, I’m coming to help you.”

8 years ago this morning, thousands of people were gathered as usual at their schools, airports and office buildings, two in New York in particular. In moments, everything changed beyond description. At the center of the action were the firefighters. The comments that I remember most from people who were there are these: “While we ran as fast as we could down the stairs to get out of that burning building, the firefighters ran as fast as they could up the stairs, into that burning building. In the midst of the noises and smoke around me, I remember seeing their uniforms, and I knew they were coming to help us.”

To those firefighters who ran into those burning buildings, our admiration and gratitude are beyond words. To those firefighters who didn’t come back out, our hearts will forever remember you with sadness and honor. To all firefighters everywhere, thank you for what you do. Thank you for always coming to help us.


  1. This is a beautiful tribute. We will never forget.

  2. Beautiful and poignant...
    No words can really explain the grief that followed that day. Somehow we must keep hope in our hearts...

  3. That was absolutely beautiful and says it all so poignantly...Rose

  4. Your message deeply touched our hearts.
    Only got half way through and the tears came.
    We pray today the Lord Jesus would take away the veil of grief that robs so many of Vision to go on.
    Mark 6:50
    For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them, and said to them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.

    Love to all ~

  5. it is hard to fathom this kind of bravery...beautiful post...thank you for sharing

  6. Thank you for your tribute. Like you I do think about this, as my brother is a fireman.

    What Ulla said, I agree with. We must find a way to have continued hope!!


  7. Beautiful tribute to all involved.
    What a horrible day, but thank God for the firefighters bravery that shown through time after time.


    We owe our lives to these men and all the men .... and women.... who have given their lives to keep us safe and protect us


  9. Bill
    I really appreciate your tribute to FFs who risk their lives everyday. Come visit my blog. Just started it yesterday. Only two posts so far. One serious, one humorous. Love to you, Nancy et al.

  10. Your post is such a beautiful tribute to the brave men on that unforgettable day! May God continue to heal all of the broken hearts & families due to this tragedy.
    I am praying for a firefighter in my own family this day (my husband's 52 year old brother)who just found out he has cancer. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him but he says he wants to hurry up & get well & get back to his job as a paramedic/firefighter.

  11. I live in England and turned the television on to watch what I expected was the news. Instead I watched what I thought was a "Bruce Willis-type" movie. I couldn't believe that it was real. I sat and cried at the inhumanity man showed to man. I went to school at 3.30 (UK time) to collect my precious children and all the other parents were crying at the school gates. How shocked we all were and how deeply impressed we were to see such incredible bravery displayed by your nation. God must surely bless America - you are magnificent. I envy your solidarity and our prayers are with you. Wyn x

  12. Thanks for the B-Day wish, send mine back to Nancy will you? She is, like Wanda and me another year older this month. Oh joy! I just posted part 2 of my last blog. Hope you and Nancy like it.
    Love, Ruben


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