Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Measured Response

The true measure of a Man
Is how he treats someone
Who does him absolutely no good.
- Samuel Johnson

Gerald Atwood.  Firefighter Gerald Atwood was a member of Engine Co. No. 34, Ladder Co. No. 21 operating out of Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan.   He had been a member of the FDNY for approximately eight years when he was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  Prior to joining the FDNY he had operated a home improvement business with his brother.  His wife, Barbara, described her husband as a man whose laugh was infectious and whose love of time spent in the company of those he loved dearly trumped everything else he did. 

At the time of his death in September 2001, Firefighter Atwood was the proud father of two very small children, his daughter Margaret who was just a year old and his namesake, two-year-old Gerald.  He died without ever getting to meet his third child.  His second son, Robert, was born in March 2002.  Gerald Atwood was himself the product of a large, robust family.  In addition to his wife and his children, Firefighter Atwood was survived by his father Gerald, his mother Elaine, his two sisters, Jane and Elaine, and his three brothers - John, Raymond and Gregory. Gerald Atwood was but thirty-eight years old when he died.  

Gerald Baptiste.  Firefighter Gerald Baptiste was a member of Ladder Co. No. 9.  Firefighter Baptiste's is - sadly - the type of story that has been repeated too many times to count since the events of twelve years ago.  Although he was killed in the line of duty on that terrible Tuesday morning, it took close to four years for his remains to be identified.  His famiily finally was able to give him the funeral they would have preferred to have had no reason to give but that which they knew he deserved on September 7, 2005.  Almost four years to the day after he was killed. 

Firefighter Baptiste was one of three members of Ladder Co. No. 9, which is based in the East Village, who died in the line of duty on September 11, 2001.  When last seen that morning, he was evacuating people from the North Tower.  Helping others was second nature to him, as he belonged not only to the FDNY but also to the Fighting 69th of the Army National Guard, in which he was a 2nd Lieutenant.  According to his fellow members of Ladder Co. No. 9, he was compelled to assist whoever he could - regardless of species.  His nickname at the house was "Biscuits" - a homage to his tendency to provide the dogs in the neighborhood of the firehouse with treats to eat.  When he was killed in September 2001, he was only thirty-five years old.  So much life left to live, until the time in which to live it was snatched away from him.


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