Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Firemen

On this, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I will abandon my usual self-absorbed account of my gay coming-out and my posting of pictures of sexy men with big bulges. When compared to the horror of that day, my pissy-assed little journey is a non-event.

Ten years ago, some of us in our small Canadian town felt curiously isolated from the events nearly a continent away in New York.  As the events unfold on TV, it all seemed very unreal.

No one from my town died during 9/11 attacks.  I've never met anyone who knew anyone who died in the Towers. The chance of a terrorist targeting our small, remote northern(ish) town was, and still is, virtually zero.

The only direct effect of the attacks occurred when the North American airspace was shut down for four or five days following the attacks.  Two passenger planes were forced to land at our local airport   Civic officials across Canada scrambled to find accommodation and food for around forty thousand stranded passengers.  In one small town, Gander, Newfoundland,   nearly forty planes were forced to land.

Several members of my family have jobs in rescue or protective services including my brother, who is a fireman.  While I sometimes always envy his shift schedule which gives him blocks of four days off for every four day work cycle, I would never actually want to do his job.  I don't know what big-city firemen do, but as a small-town fireman, my brother routinely:
  • carries unconscious people out of burning buildings
  • retrieves dead, bloated bodies from the river in the springtime
  • administers the Heimlich maneuver to choking victims
  • uses a cardiac defibrillator on people having a heart attack
  • uses the Jaws of Life to cut open cars after highway accidents to remove the mangled, bloodied bodies.
  • puts out fires all the time, mainly grass fires in the spring and fires caused by wood stoves in the winter.

As well, my brother got to drive the firetruck down Main Street during our town's Christmas Parade last year. Such small town excitement! That was very cool.

When reflecting on the 343 courageous firefighters who raced to their deaths into the burning towers, I think of the gaps in the lives of those left behind:  parents, siblings, wives, girlfriends, partners and children and especially their children who had not yet been born. I think of the lovers and sexual experiences they never had and the babies they never conceived.

I especially think of the 30 - 50 firefighters among the dead who would have been gay,  I would imagine that many of them were closeted or only partially out or uncertain of their sexuality.  I've heard that firehalls can be a particularly macho, testosterone-fueled environment and not all are tolerant of gays.

These men will never experience the joy and freedom of living a life of truth, of finding a true connection with another man in every way, emotionally, sexually, romantically and socially.   To me, that is the saddest thing of all.

When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished.  What he does after that is all in the line of work.  ~Edward F. Croker


  1. May God bless all the firemen and others who were killed on 9/11 and especially their families and friends left behind.

  2. I shed a great many tears this weekend over the memory of those I knew who died in the Towers that day. BosGuy has the best way to honor the memory of the friend he lost...spend time with family and friends today.

    Hit me up with an e mail. Would love to hear how you are doing!

  3. As a non American, you show a great deal of empathy to us. I for one appreciate it. Very much. I was born in New York though not raised there (dad was a US Marine). I enjoyed every time I was in the towers. Last time was in summer of 2000. Took the family. I remembered them being built. I was near them two weeks earlier when going to my Uncle's funeral (dad's side) I live in the south now where they refer to people like me as DAMN Yankees. We are the ones who came and stayed. Even the southerners were respectful. I miss the towers. Unlike some, I always thought they were beautiful and practical. one square acre in each floor. Freestanding except for the elevators.
    I wish they had rebuilt them using the knowledge learned from what helped keep them up as long as they stayed and what needed to be improved. But that ship has sailed.
    What many forget is that amoung the dead were peple from around the world. Including Muslims! It really was a global empact.
    Again thanks from one American to one Canadian. Or better yet, from one human to another.


  4. Paul, WranglerMan and Kevin. Thanks for commenting! Yes, WranglerMan, I'll e-mail when I have a moment.

    Kevin, thank you for your personal account of the towers. It was very moving.

  5. Thank you for posting this empathetic commentary. It’s really moving that you thought of the percentage of gay people who gave their lives in service of a country who gives them second-class rights. Yes, I am an American, first generation, which gives me a different perspective as so many first generation Americans whose parents have been in concentration camps, slavery or living in a dictatorship. It grieves me that sexual preference is used as an issue to divide us. I still thank you. ciel

  6. Thank goodness for the people in this world who volunteer to put their lives on the line for society's sake, including your brother.

    Is he as hot as you?

  7. Sorry, Cubby, I missed this comment when you made it. We were always mistaken for twins when we were growing up; same height, frame, facial features.... I always thought he was more handsome.

    But I was a skinny ectomorph and he was a true hunk. True blonde hair (mine was light brown), bright blue eyes and amazing, bulky natural muscles.

    Now, he's "let himself go" and is at least 70 pounds heavier than me.


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