Thursday, September 1, 2011

And If I Don't Make It

(Testament of a Hero) September 11, 2001 @ 7:30 pm

        How was I supposed to get out of this one? Have they not yet realized I am here, I am alive? I lie here awaiting a rescue that might never reach me, some being to finish the job I started. I think of a home now I may never see and faces I love that are etched in my memory. I am not naive though, I understand that my deliverer may not pull me from my entombment in time. Something inside forces me to bare the circumstances and face the minutes that pass ever so slow in hopes of a hero’s hand soon grasping mine, a miracle smile shared between fallen victims. The feeling that all is left behind me now, that I will, against most odds, not make it out of this one, forces me to calm myself with thoughts of history past. I believe mom and dad will truly know that what I was doing made me happy and fulfilled my life. Surely my brother and sister too will know that I gave up mine so another could continue. The light is obscured and limited but even still I can see the visual aids of life past and those that struggle on to continue the vigil of their release. A finger touches my arm in the depths of darkness and remains there. I am sure it is a feeling that if she is alive and I am also then there is hope. I take her hand in mine and hold on tight and try to mumble words of encouragement, but sounds are not forthcoming. My lungs and mouth have filled with the particles ash and the remains of what once stood and my body, also denied the water needed for adequate hydration, will not expend any extra moisture for words not needed. I had heard the call go out and never gave it a second thought as I rushed to a scene I was unprepared for. Inside I did go, to help those that surely would not be in their right faculties to handle that which had just been displayed before them. I think back to the lady’s I found huddled on the fifth flight of stairs, paralyzed with fear, would they have perished if I had not gotten to them? Will they now lead a more worthy life given that opportunity? The older gentlemen that had his leg broken in the stampede but still made it to the third floor before collapsing, could he have gotten out without me? Many others that are not so vivid that I had somehow helped, I would not do it differently if time were replayed, only tried to do more before the fall of this once great super structure. Was it daylight out now, how many days had I been here? The sounds of others have seemed to grow less over the time sentenced here. I hope for their sake it is for the saving of much needed strength, but fearing otherwise, it slowly becomes a realization that we might not make it. I find reassurance in my brothers of life, knowing they, as well as all their tools were working diligently to get to us. I could hear the cause and purpose of their mission but knew the sounds of their machinery were far from reaching us today. Again I try to move and crawl but there is no response from my lower extremities. Had I sustained damage to both or was there a crushing weight preventing their departure? My thoughts turn to those that had been able to make better time than I had and had already expanded their search to the upper levels when the burning rubble broke free and descended and dived towards earth at record speeds. Were they here with me now? I am no hero! The heroes are those that are topside that search frantically to find life, the people that have given their life already to the mission. The heroes are those left behind that must now carry on without the completeness of themselves, those are the real heroes! My body and mind now grow even calmer with the passage of every minute, I am no longer afraid! Tell mom and dad that I faced this with no fear; that I shed not one tear for myself but for others. If I don’t make it, don’t worry, I will see you guys again. I am a son, a brother and a friend and these titles are doubled as my extended family of firefighters also honors me with these. I pick up my battered helmet and trace the numbers of my engine company with my finger and find the emblem clinging to the helmet as if saying hang in there, we will make it, just hang on. Tell them all that I made it even if you pull me from this no longer breathing, tell them I was full of life when you got to me, and never let them know of my demise. Do not let them win. I know not the fate of any others or of the twin of the fallen tower.  Had she also fallen? How many of my brothers and sisters lost, how many others paid the ultimate sacrifice? I am among the wounded, I am the wounded, lay me down and let me sleep but for a while now. I grow tired and weak with hunger, weak with thirst, but I am alive, I am here guys, I have not left your side! Don’t let them win. I am ready to go home!       

                                                                Mark Hall  

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