When the World Trade Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001, firefighters were among the first on the scene. As people were rushing down the stairs to escape, firefighters were rushing up those same stairs to help bring people out of the building. As they went up to put out the raging fires, many were caught in the buildings' collapse.

From the MSNBC site, Teresa Kong, a worker in the World Trade Center, said, "There were firemen rushing into my building as I was leaving. It was very clear that they were being heroic, doing their jobs." Another person who worked in the World Trade Center Towers, Jim Pensomen, said, "The toughest part was watching the firemen go back into that building as it was coming down. That was something else. Those guys, I tell you, they have courage, knowing what they know."

Many units of firefighters were lost in this rescue effort. Because New York City was running low on manpower, units from New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut were called in. Many people also volunteered to help rescue people, and even off-duty and retired firefighters came back to help.

Firefighters set up memorials for their missing colleagues and paid their respects to the heroic acts of bravery displayed. Five firefighters who were missing were found alive and were taken to the hospital for treatment. Many other firefighters set up American flags and encouraged the nation to come together in its time of need.

Because of the selfless bravery and heroism of these firefighters, many people got to safety. Approximately 250 firefighters sacrificed their own lives to save others. Their actions will never be forgotten.

On September 17, Lee Glickstein from northern California wrote:

I have never broadcast a mass idea such as this, and it just came upon me Friday evening. It is a simple, appropriate, neighborly act with national ramifications. The foundation of the act is rooted in the new prayer: "May we never again take our beloved fire and police people for granted."

The action I stand for is to visit the neighborhood fire and police stations and tell these human beings what's in our hearts.

So I went around the corner to the Mill Valley, California, Fire Station at 7:10 pm, Friday, 9/14/01, knocked on the door marked "Private" and said to Fireman Bob: "I thought I'd see people on the street with candles at that 7 pm email vigil idea that even made it onto the network and cable news, and we'd start communing and I'd suggest we all go together to the firehouse and tell the firepeople what is in our hearts.

"But no one was out there on the street, so here I am alone to tell you two things: 'I realize that you just had a terrible loss of many brothers. And the second thing is that... ...I know what you are willing to do for me ... and I am grateful.' " [Deep breath]

Bob got it and promised to pass it on to his colleagues. He told me no one from the neighborhood had visited until now. I told him I won't be the last and I can tell he liked hearing that.

It felt to me exactly the right thing to do, to lift morale where one can. If you agree, do it individually or in groups. Maybe you'll even make it into a community ceremony.

But do it, do it Saturday or Sunday. Open a line of communication with the strangers nearby who run toward danger and not away from it; who would give their lives for any of us without a second thought. Very American, isn't it? Bring the children, and I appreciate if you let me know how it turns out. Pass this on if you'd like.

Page created on 8/13/2014 10:48:43 AM

Last edited 1/6/2017 5:58:23 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

From Poet Hero Mattie Stepanek - "For Our World," by Mattie Stepanek, sheds some light on this tragedy.

Extra Info

Much of the data compiled for this story was taken from the following websites:


BBC News

The New York Times


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Author Info

Each and every day of the year firemen come to the rescue of those in need. This tribute is for all the brave women and men who serve communities with courage and uncompromising devotion to humanity. These people are not just doing their job, they are the heroes who take each task to heart and each life saved is a victory for their team.

On September 11, 2001, two commerical airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City. Men and women from all over the nation rushed to these sites to help with rescue efforts, but first on the scene were hundreds of the NYC firefighters, many of whom died when the towers collapsed. Here is a tribute to those men and women who risked their lives to save others.