On any other day, I would have passed by Ladder Company 35 on my way to work without a thought. Not on this day: September 11, 2001. The firemen from this house were called to service as never before. In the process, they lost brethren at the World Trade Center. As a city, as a community, as individuals, we were all trying to absorb the unthinkable. F16 fighter jets were flying over our city. Black smoke and a toxic stench filled the air, our bodies, and our souls.
People from this Upper West Side community came together in an outpouring of support for this brave fire company where, over the years, those red doors opened countless times to our children and grandchildren so that they could meet the firemen and sit atop that magical ladder truck. We joined together in a call to action to serve in any capacity we could in the days and weeks following the disaster. One 92-year-old woman baked cookies every day and brought them over for the men. Some cooked meals. Others collected cell phones (in very short supply) to be used by the firefighters on the site. Many stopped by just to hug those exhausted men and thank them for all they were doing and ask how to serve to support them.
Every year on 9/11 many in the community bring flowers to lie in front of the memorial for those who lost their lives during the event that changed us and our city forever. This day can also serve a larger purpose, an opportunity for each of us to reflect on ways we can actively be of service to our community, a way for us join together on an ongoing basis to help those in need.
Want to find out more about how you can serve? The JCC in Manhattan is hosting a free National Day of Service and Remembrance volunteer fair on 9/11 from 5:30-7:30 pm. Click here to learn more and register.