Remember 11 September, 2001. Do you remember how it felt? Astonishment. Confusion. Fear. Anger. In spite of the feelings we all felt, some reacted. Some moved forward without a thought of retreat. All of us over a certain age remember it well. I remember reading about “towers” falling and not even being certain what that meant, but I remember the moment and exactly where I was.

Never Forget

An open letter to the First Responders of North GA:

Why do you do it? Why do you do what you do? Forget the how, I understand training until it becomes muscle memory, I want to know why. When you were a kid, did you love the flashing lights and shiny trucks? Did you admire the men and women who operated them? Did law enforcement officers immediately catch your attention when they entered the room?

At some point, childhood infatuation had to give way to the realities of the job, yet you persist. Why?

13 years ago, our great country suffered at the hands of evil. Evil people who were bent to kill the innocent. Men and women who were just going about their daily routines. Americans who got up that day, kissed their husbands, their wives and their children good bye. I can imagine the scene as it is the same one that has played out at my house hundreds of times, “Bye honey, see you tonight. Bye kiddos, be good for mom.” Mundane. Boring even. Everyday life. Not realizing that it would be the last time.

Then IT happened.

The Unthinkable. The Unimaginable occurred and everything changed. Everything.

That’s when you went in.

Thousands of people were rushing out of those buildings that morning, yet you were rushing in. Down the stairways came the occupants of hundreds of offices, yet you rushed up.

And 414 of you died that day.

Why do you do it?

I am haunted by the images: A fire fighter looking up the stairs, captured in a quick photograph by those attempting to leave the building. A video of the rubble as the beeps of dozens, maybe hundreds of your emergency locator beacons blare (PASS). Ash covered police officers carrying civilians to safety. These and so many others are burned into my brain and I hope they stay there for the rest of my life. I do not ever want to forget. It was a terrible day for our nation. Tragic. Senseless. A cowardly brutalization of the defenseless.

It was also a day of heroes. Heroes, who also unknowingly kissed their families goodbye one final time. “See you tonight babe”, was possibly the last exchange. They didn’t think of themselves as heroes, they thought that they were, “doing their job”. They simply went to work another shift in a career field that is anything but simple.

Why do you do it?

It isn’t for the money, it is an income but one that is difficult to live on – and that is not even considering the volunteers who do it for free. It isn’t for fame, very few of your names are ever even mentioned (often it is a negative when you are mentioned at all). In fact, you are rarely recognized publicly.

So, why?

You work in anonymity until we need you, then IT happens. The Unthinkable, the Unimaginable, the worst day of our lives. And you rush in. A shining light clothed in 50 pounds of protective gear. In other circumstances, lawmen arrive carrying weaponry with the intent to defend us even at the risk of your own safety.

Who was in those buildings that day? We were. Who came in to get us? You did. What is the difference between you and them? 13 years and geography. That's it. If I am in a burning building today, if I am in danger at the hands of someone who intends to do me harm, if I am trapped in an auto or industrial accident, threatened by nature....whatever the calamity might be, you are there. You go from anonymity to saving presence all because of my discomfort and troubles.

There are many levels at which you exist: you answer the phone and dispatch, you keep the engine running, you train others, you administer policy, you drive to the scene, you keep the roads safe by working to ensure that I arrive home incident free, you rush in to save....and so many others. You operate as a team to combat that which I am least able to deal with.

Far too often in this life, I have no idea what I am supposed to do. However, I do know what I can do:

Thank You.

I speak for myself, my family, my staff and those in our area who would like to express such thoughts, but have no voice to do so. We are a great people, we become greater when we stand together.

I would like to invite you to be our guest at The Brick Oven in Rock Spring, tomorrow, 9/11/2014. Let me and my staff thank you with a meal. This small thing is little more than a gesture, but please allow us the honor of doing it for you. In no way does it come close to how we truly feel about you and the work you do.

To my Community:

Please visit my Facebook page, “Bob's Brick Oven” and find the post that says, “Dear First Responder...” Post your thoughts to the men and women who quietly serve us. Thanking someone can change their day, maybe more.

Thank you for your business, we exist only because you allow us to. Your support means that we can continue to have events such as this.

Thank you. I am honored to be a part of such a great community. May God Bless America.