On September 11, 2011, I was personally attacked.
My dad is my best friend. When I was in college and everyone would go on spring break with their friends, it was an obvious choice to go to Key West with my father. He drove his Honda Gold Wing to Miami International Airport (MIA) and pick me up. I would fly with only a carry on 2 days after he left on the bike and we would take the AIA to Key West and stay for 14 days. I skipped an entire week of college and he took off 2 weeks of work. We left mom at home, not because she isn’t in my life, simply because Key West is “our thing”. I almost wasn’t able to experience Key West with my daddy every year, he almost died in a fire when I was a toddler, fighting a fire.
My dad is now a paramedic and is damn good at his job. He has saved countless lives in his twentieth year at Delaware County Emergency Medical Service and is my hero. He handed in his bunker gear after he found his self trapped in a structure fire with another firefighter. I didn’t know until two years ago why he stopped, and it was chilling. He said mom and I didn’t have anyone else, and he couldn’t leave us alone. As a paramedic, he has been stuck by countless dirty needles, had guns and knives pulled on him, been thrown against an ambulance and tore his rotator cuff, punched in the face and broke his orbital bone, and after a bank robbery, the robbers last breath was a terrible cough of blood into his mouth, nose, and eyes. He has been on antiretrovirals, in quarantine, narcotics, and it goes without saying in fights.
My dad works the next 8 Christmas’s. He has this last Christmas off and worked the last previous 6. I have five dads at a fire station affectionately named “seven’s”, 6 doctor’s, and roughly 8 dads at the EMS station that has known me since I have been four years old. The fortunate yet unfortunate side of things is I have an entire police department that knows my dad, and my default me, so it truly isn’t a joke that someone knows where I am at all times. What I love? At 24 I can run in Muncie at all times of the day and night and know I am safe, know the doctors, and have an amazing family. I spend Christmas with my family. The wives and children bring food and prepare it for their husbands and we all have christmas lunch/dinner together. Our fathers and husbands take calls when their appropriate tones sound throughout the station and they come and go all day, but we spend the day with family.
So when the 343 firefighter’s never came home, and over 400 servicemen in total died, it was personal. It is personal. Our family made a decision that dad would not go to ground zero and help sort through debris, but other’s went. It was too dangerous and he is all we have. Now 37 hero’s in the last two month’s alone who responded to the call have been diagnosed with cancer. Over 1,400 first responders have died of cancer that helped sift through the debris. We are still counting the the deaths. It is much greater than 343.
Take a moment to thank your service men and women. I was able to thank the one who woke up in my house today. For today, he is safe, my hero is my daddy, my best friends, my countless other fathers who helped raise me. I love them. Thank you.