Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We Ain't Going Anywhere

Almost eleven years has passed since the Concert for New York City was held at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2001.  If you have forgotten over the years the words of a certain member of the FDNY that evening - a member of the FDNY stung not only by the loss of 343 of his brothers - but by something far more personal, I suppose that is to be expected.  Refresh yourself right here, right now.   
John Moran - whose brother Mike threw the gauntlet down on Osama Bin Laden at the Concert for New York City was a FDNY Batallion Chief killed in the line of duty on September 11, 2001.  Battalion Chief Moran was not quite two months past his forty-second birthday when he died.   He was a husband to his wife Kim and a father of two young sons, Ryan who was seven when his father was taken from him and Dylan who was only four.  Chief Moran was a kayaking, tin- whistle-playing firefighter with a law degree.
Battalion Chief Moran was one of those people who simply excelled at the things he did.  Upon joining the FDNY he became the youngest Battalion Chief in the department.  In 1994 he graduated from one of America's great law schools, Fordham, with honors.  For good measure he became a member of the Law Review.
John Moran died on September 11, 2001 in the company of his boss - the legendary Ray Downey - and the eleven members of Engine 3 who had rushed to the gates of hell from their East Village firehouse to help those in need at the World Trade Center.  In July 2011 the remains of the truck that had carried those eleven fireighters from Engine 3, which truck was destroyed by falling debris, was lowered into the National 09/11 Memorial.  
William Feehan, seventy-one years old, was the oldest member of the FDNY killed on September 11, 2001.  Deputy Fire Commissioner Feehan became the oldest and highest-ranking firefighter ever to die in the line of duty. 
His career in the FDNY spanned forty-two years beginning as a probationary firefighter in 1959.  He held every title in the Department - even serving as Acting Commissioner in 1993-94.  Prior to joining the FDNY he fought in the Korean War as a member of the United States Army and earned the Combat Infantry Badge, Korean Service Medal, UN Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal
Deputy Fire Commissioner Feehan's wife Elizabeth pre-deceased him.  He was survived by four children - his daughters Elizabeth and Tara and his sons William and John.  John followed in his father's professional footsteps and joined the FDNY.  In the Spring of 2009, Captain John Feehan of Engine Company 249 in Flatbush completed a course taught at the United States Military Academy's Combating Terrorism Center.  "All the members of my company know that anguish, especially professionally, we felt after the attack.  Anything I can do prevent an event like that from happening again, I'm willing to do." 
Thomas O'Hagan was a Lieutenant assigned to Engine 6 in Manhattan, a house that is located only a few blocks from the World Trade Center.  He had been assigned there only a few weeks prior to September 11.  Lt. O'Hagan was the father of twin sons, Patrick and Pierce, who were but eighteen months old when their dad was killed.  He and his wife Andrea had been married about nine and one-half years as of September 11, 2001. 
It had been Lt. O'Hagan's plan to retire from the FDNY in 2002 after having spent twenty years on the job.  He was from a typically small Irish family - one of eleven kids.  Andrea described her late husband in terms that could be described only as beautiful:  "He was just a true gentleman, a very warm, giving person." He also was a pragmatist. If they could have one of those comforting, heart-to-heart talks they regularly had, she said, her husband would probably say something like: "Raise the boys, keep them and yourself happy, and move on."
Many good men and women gave their lives in an effort to save the lives of others on September 11, 2001.  Those they left behind have done the best possible thing - they have continued to live their lives.  Bowed but unbroken.  Knocked down but not out.  As Billy Joel pointed out at the Concert for New York City, "We ain't going anywhere"....

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