- A Tribute to our Fallen Firefighters
- A Decade of Hope, Report From Ground Zero
- Heroism Amid Tragedy
- Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake & Fire
Dennis Smith, The United States Commission on Terrorism 9/11 Testimony
In a haphazard joining of time and place he found him self not far from the World Trade Center on the morning September 11, 2001, as the North Tower fell, in a commandeered city bus going south on West Street with more than a dozen firefighters.
With hundreds of firefighters, police officers, medical personnel, construction workers and others he watched the day enfold in a tragedy so profound that not one among us was prepared to integrate what we saw into a normal expectation, or an unaffected memory.
The necessity of that day and the ensuing days called upon all of us to make a statement, either in our hearts or in our conversation with our families and our friends, some message that said we were cognizant of what was done to us, that we were Americans, and that we would stand firmly together in any adversity.
Our times, now more than ever, call for an honest appraisal of our record in counter terrorism preparedness.
“We will always remember.”
The passing of our firefighters, and we think now of the name of each, is not only etched in stone, but this humanity, this courage, this loving dedication to family, to community, to life itself, is etched in our collective memory.
A day does not pass that we do not think of brave deeds and the significance of death, for we know that our firefighters in every alarm can, and too often do, walk to the chasm that separates us from eternity, and with head held high, determined in the belief that another person’s life is held in reverence, there at the precipice, take that one additional step forward to give his life in the name of all that God has made good.
This is what decency is. This is the basis of civilization. This is the stuff of a good man, and a good woman. We are all so proud today. And, we can feel your own loving pride, you the wives, the sons, the daughters, the parents, the brothers and sisters, the friends.
Like you, we will always remember.
Mother Theresa’s words now so that you can lodge them in your hearts and bring them to the warmth of your homes.
“A life not lived for others,” she said, “is not a life.”
We can all look about us, and see the vitality in the lives around us, here and at home, and we can say that life is still with us, that fundamental to life is the gift of time. There is much yet to do. We’ll be with you.
We can cherish our memories, preserve them, but we can at the same time, realize that we have a responsibility to ourselves and to those who love us, to make the most of our gift, to mold true happiness out of the great mound of time that providence has placed before us.
God bless you and protect the men and women of our fire service.
Books by Dennis Smith
- San Francisco is Burning – The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires
- Report from Engine Co.82
- History of Firefighting in America
- Firefighters—Their Lives in Their Own Words
- Report from Ground Zero
- The Little Fire Engine That Saved The City