September 11 Part 2

After a week at Ground Zero, I went home alone. I had driven my own vehicle there. The other 18 firefighters from Monroe County had left a day and a half earlier. I wanted to stay as long as I could, but it had started to take a toll on my five and seven year old boys. That was the longest drive of my entire life. One thing I will never forget while driving home was the newspaper reporter from the Toledo Blade who called my cell phone. He had heard I was there at Ground Zero and someone gave him my cell phone number. As he was asking questions about what I did at Ground Zero, a song started playing on the radio. It was, “I'm Already There,” by Lonestar (with inserts from the World Trade Center disaster playing in the background). I was so tired from the last week and driving home alone, and since that was my son’s favorite song, I started to cry. Yes, firefighters do cry. With the reporter on the cell phone, I told him I could not talk, hung up, and had to pull over to the side of the road.

Something to Hold on To

I made it home and after a couple of weeks had gone by, I still could not stop thinking of what I had seen, and the business card I had found. I was watching TV and saw a program about how families that had lost their loved ones at the WTC were hoping to find something from their loved one to hold on to. I got goose bumps when I saw this show, and even today as I write this, I still get goose bumps. I knew then I needed to find someone in the man’s family, even though this was only a business card. There was a name of a man on this card and I knew he had a family that was missing him.

You see, when I found the business card and stood there holding it at Ground Zero, listening to what that New York firefighter was saying to me, I had the strangest feeling come over me. While standing on that huge pile of debris, holding that business card in my hand, something told me this man did not suffer. I believe in God, and believe me, I talked to him a lot when I was there, and I know he had everything to do with this. I know he had put me there at that time and at that place for a reason. I know there are better people in this world, but for whatever reason, God wanted me to be the one to find that business card.

After a few phone calls and with the help of a wonderful woman from Canter Fitzgerald, I found the man’s family. This woman from Canter Fitzgerald got a hold of his wife. With the courage of a million people, she called me at my home one night a couple of days later. You see, I did not know for sure if I would get a call back. The woman I had spoken to told me she did not know how she was going to approach the family about the business card. I felt she thought I was nuts after I told her my story about finding it, so I did not expect a call back, much less a call from the wife of the man.

She began by telling me who she was and asked me if I was the firefighter who found her husband’s business card at Ground Zero. When I told her it was me, she began to cry. That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I mean, I've had to tell many people in my career as a firefighter that their loved one has passed away, but this was the hardest time for me ever. While I talked to her the best I could under the circumstances, I kept as calm as I could.

She wanted to know where I had found the card, how I had found it, and if I had any pictures of where I found the card. This was one of the saddest moments, next to when my own seven year old son asked me on the phone while at Ground Zero if I had found any more bodies. She asked if I would send her the card and the pictures of where I found it. “No problem,” I told her.

Hard to Imagine Their Pain

At that moment, I knew God had wanted me to find that business card so I could hold onto it until I found her. Can you imagine ... one day you are kissing your loved one in the morning before they leave for work, and then you turn on the TV and see the worst disaster in American history, knowing your loved one was in there? I cannot imagine the horrible feeling those people felt seeing that unfold before their own eyes. You see, the family of this man heard he had gotten out when the towers came down and was in the hospital with smoke inhalation problems. But several hours later, they found out differently.


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