This past Saturday was the annual 9/11 memorial mass. It’s my 10th mass. Saying that sounds crazy and puts truth to the saying “time flies”. Throughout the year, each firehouse in NYC has a handful of family get togethers that become tradition. There’s the company Christmas party, fully equipped with the poor sucker stuck inside a rented Santa suit, forced to pass out gifts to the children of the FDNY families. For us non-parents, the Christmas party means huddling together near the booze table, making jokes about the choir that showed up uninvited, yet again.
Another annual function is the FDNY picnic. I love the picnic! It’s always towards the end of summer, it’s outside, we play volleyball, eat hotdogs and drink Mikes Hard Lemonade without judgement. This year we got those spiked seltzers though…. classes things up a bit. I would never miss a picnic. They’re so fun and have become a summer staple. I even went one year without Tom because he was at a golf outing. I’m sorry Baby, I’m not giving up the picnic because you wanna play golf with retired NY Rangers. The frisbee awaits!
My favorite FDNY tradition though, as crazy as it may sound, is the 9/11 memorial mass. As years pass, people move on, the children grow up, girlfriends become wives, couples have babies, firefighters become lieutenants and so it goes. The FDNY functions are those moments in each year when things stand still and you put measurement to life’s evolutions. The memorial to me is of the most important. I’m not religious. I wasn’t raised with any specific faith and church has always made me feel like I missed a class and now I’m being tested. Ironically though, the annual mass held in St Ignatius Loyola on Park Ave is one of my favorite moments of the year. To me, there is something incredibly special about a bunch of dudes who could put “ball busting” and “beer chugging” on their resumes as special skills coming together, dressed in their Class A’s (fireman slang for “fancy”) remembering their fallen brothers.
The FDNY is a brotherhood and if you marry into it, it becomes your family. When those towers fell, I was 15 years old. The magnitude of what had happened didn’t click into my selfish teenage brain. But now, 16 years later I’m a senior wife in this crazy dysfunctional family we call the FDNY. Every year, on the Saturday closest to September 11th we come together in this glorious 166 year old church on the upper east side and remember the men who sacrificed their lives just doing their jobs, the same job that our men continue to do today.
Like the picnic, but for very different reasons, I will never, NEVER miss the 9/11 memorial mass. I personally feel it is my duty as a wife to be at the mass. I’m proud my husband is a firefighter and I’m proud to be a part of this family. Many of the guys only know surface level stuff about me, whatever they may see on social media, whatever Tom may say while at work, but I know that if I ever needed anything, any one of them would be there without question and without reservation. Because your husband is my brother at work, you are my sister in life. The same is true for us ladies. Friendships have been created and few have expanded outside the firehouse functions but there is an unspoken understanding between the wives and girlfriends of the the FDNY. I may only see you three times a year but girlfriend, I got your back! My man protects your man and visa versa and with that we know we are sisters for life.
Future posts will tell the journey I took from being a probies girlfriend to a firefighters wife but I felt it appropriate today of all days to honor the bravery, dedication and love that is the FDNY.
Below is a list of the 9 men lost from E22, TL13, B10
Capt. Walter Hynes Lad Co. 13
FF Gregory Stajk Lad Co. 13
FF Thomas Sabella Lad Co. 13
FF Thomas Hetzel Lad Co. 13
FF Dennis McHugh Lad Co. 13
FF Martin McWilliams Eng Co. 22
FF Vincent Kane Eng Co. 22
FF Michael Elferis Eng Co. 22
FF Thomas Casoria Eng Co. 22
This post brought tears to these tired old eyes. Through my 41 1/2 years of service as a police officer of multiple ranks, losing a fellow brother or sister was hard. Performing rescue breathing/CPR on one of my officers, and having him die after being shot left an indelible mark on my heart. I attended 37 police officer funerals in all those years, and 5 funerals for fallen firefighters who were our brothers in red.
The year after 9/11 and every year since I organized a Candlelight Vigil for officers killed in the line of duty. When the towers fell, I went to work numb knowing what those heros were facing. I went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and sat in uniform praying silently in a completely full but silent church.
I appreciate what you said in this post, Jessica, and those bonds that you have in the FDNY family will always be there.
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