“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the firefighter has to do believe that his is a noble calling."
-Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY circa 1910
Everyone deals with depression in their own way. As the anniversary of 9/11 quickly approaches, I would like to share my story of dealing with PTSD, and I manage it every anniversary.
I only worked at the site for a day on 9/12/01, and what I saw will stay with me forever. I can remember 9/11/02 was a restless day and very depressing. On 9/11/03, I decided not to sit around and cry, so I drove into Brooklyn. I found a park in Brooklyn Heights that had a great view of Lower Manhattan. There were a lot of other New Yorkers there, candles were lit and we just watched our City and the skyline that will never be the same. I had a camera with me, in the early 2000's, digital cameras were up and coming. So I took a few pictures. Little did I know, this was me dealing with my PTSD. I was still depressed but I managed to find something to occupy my night and kind of keep me occupied. 9/11/04, I ended up doing the same thing and to this day, I plan accordingly. Since I became an FDNY Firefighter, I got creative. I spent a lot of money on a good camera. During the day I spend the anniversary with my firehouse family as we remember everyone who was lost from the firehouse that day. At night, I do the same thing I did on 9/11/03. 9/11/13, I reached out to a friend on the Fire Boat and they took me out around Manhattan. 9/11/14 & 9/11/15, I went to New Jersey.
While I have plenty of pictures, I will continue the tradition. What took place on that day was nothing but the best of the FDNY and the Country's Fire Service. Members in different capacities gave it their all. Some were working, some weren't. Some were retired, working at the WTC as Fire Safety Directors, others were on injury at Headquarters and still responded. Retired members from home who didn't have to come out, did. An actor/former FDNY Firefighter turned the cameras off and went to his former firehouse to help. On 9/11/01, I responded as a volunteer from Long Island, I met a lot of other members from departments in NY, NJ and across the country.
Below are pictures I have taken. There are 3 pictures that I took from 2003 at the park. We lost members right after 9/11 to PTSD suicide. I wish I could turn back the clock and tell them, there is another way, but I understand their pain.... we all do. If anyone struggles, the FDNY CTU is there for you. Don't deal with it alone, because your not.
God bless America