Monday, September 2, 2013

Crocker's Creed


I HAVE NO AMBITION IN THIS WORLD BUT ONE,
AND THAT IS TO BE A FIREMAN.
THE POSITION MAY, IN THE EYES OF SOME,
APPEAR TO BE A LOWLY ONE;
BUT THOSE WHO KNOW THE WORK WHICH A FIREMAN
HAS TO DO BELIEVE HIS IS A NOBLE CALLING.
OUR PROUDEST MOMENT IS TO SAVE... LIVES.
UNDER THE IMPULSE OF SUCH THOUGHTS
THE NOBILITY OF THE OCCUPATION THRILLS US
AND STIMULATES US TO DEEDS OF DARING,
EVEN OF SUPREME SACRIFICE.

-"To Be a Fireman"
Edward F. Crocker, Chief of Department
FDNY 1899-1911

Harvey Harrell.  Lieutenant Harvey Harrell was forty-nine years old.  Lt. Harrell was a twenty-two year veteran of the FDNY.  When he first joined the Department in 1979 he was assigned to Engine Co. 253 in Brooklyn.  From there, he went first to Ladder Co. 109 and thereafter Ladder Co. 157 (both in Brooklyn) before spending six years at Rescue 1 in Manhattan.  He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1994 and assigned to the 41st Battalion in Brooklyn.  1995 brought a transfer to Special Operations Command on Roosevelt Island.  In 1996 he took on what proved to be his final assignment, Rescue 5, in Staten Island, which is where he lived with his wife, Rachel, and their daughter Elyse.  Elyse was fifteen when her dad died at the World Trade Center.  Lt. Harrell and Rachel were just one week away from celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary.  

Lt. Harrell's story is of the type that was told often in the days and weeks following that dreadful day:  a hero who died because he chose to put himself someplace that he was not required to be so he could help those who needed it.  Lt. Harrell had been scheduled to spend the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 at a FDNY training class in Rosebank.  Upon hearing of what had happened in Lower Manhattan he made his way to Rescue 5 and went where he felt he most needed to be.  He always had.  One does not receive seven citations for valor without putting the needs of others before your own.  

Stephen Harrell.  As if it was not enough for any family to have to endure the loss of a single loved one on September 11, 2001, the Harrell family was twice-cursed by that day's events.  Lt. Stephen Harrell of Battalion 7, younger brother of Lt. Harvey Harrell, was working at Ladder Co. 10 in Manhattan on that particular September morning.  "Ten House", the home of Ladder Co. 10 and Engine Co. 10 is located at 124 Liberty Street - across the street from (then) the World Trade Center and (now) the 09/11 Memorial.  It is also the home of the FDNY Memorial Wall, which is simply stunning.  

  
Lt. Stephen Harrell and the men of Ten House were among the first members of the FDNY to respond that morning.  The last reported sighting of Lt. Harrell was in the center staircase of Tower 1, somewhere between the 30th and 40th floors.  At the time of his death, Stephen Harrell had been a member of the FDNY for fifteen years.  He earned the promotion to Lieutenant in 1998.  In addition to his temporary assignment at Ten House and his time at Battalion 7, he had worked - as a firefighter - in Brooklyn at Ladder Co. 122, Engine Co. 255 and Ladder Co. 157.  He was a talented musician and singer (serenading his wife on their wedding day with Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight").  He was survived by his wife, Meghan, and his little girl Holly Rae.  His daughter was just seven years old at the time of his death. 

That is a long time for a little girl to live without her daddy.  Too damn long in fact.    

 -AK

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