Friday, September 26, 2014

From Empty Bars Where Guitars Ring Out

Tonight, now I see old friends 
Caught in a game they've got no chance to win.
Gettin' beat and then playin' again,
'Til their strength gives out or their heart gives in...
- "None But The Brave" 
Bruce Springsteen

On Wednesday afternoon I made the pilgrimage to Staten Island - to the Petrides School - to pick up our bibs and race gear for Sunday morning's Tunnel To Towers Run.  The New York City Tunnel To Towers Run is, of course, the signature event of the Siller Foundation, whose Mission is as powerful as it is succinctly stated: 

The Mission of our Foundation is to honor the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001.  We also honor our military and our first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country. 

Wednesday brought a sad confluence of events.  For it was on Wednesday that the FDNY announced that on Monday, September 22, 2014, three members of the FDNY who had worked at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, had all died that day as a direct result of illnesses they suffered as a result of their work there.  On one terrible day, the specter of September 11, 2001 raised its sinister head and claimed three more members of the FDNY.  

Firefighter Daniel Heglund was a member of Rescue 4 in Woodside, Queens.  Illness forced him to retire in March, 2003.  He retired as a 21-year veteran of the FDNY.  He was fifty-nine at the time of his death on September 22, 2014.  Had he lived, he would have celebrated his sixtieth birthday on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.

Firefighter Robert Leaver was a member of Engine 202 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Illness forced him to retire in May, 2003.  At the time of his retirement, he had spent twenty years on the job.  He is survived by his wife Rosaria, his father Joseph and several siblings.

Lieutenant Howard Bischoff was a nineteen-year veteran of the FDNY when illness forced him to retire from the Department in May, 2003.  Lt. Bischoff was a member of Ladder 149 in Dyker Heights.  He was fifty-eight years old when he died on Monday, September 22, 2014, leaving behind his wife Sheri, his children Christian and Lindsey and numerous other family members and loved ones.   One loved one who he did not leave behind was his lifelong best friend, FF Robert Leaver.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C. far too many of the men and women who we the people of the United States have elected - ostensibly to do the will of the aforementioned people - spend far too much of their time dicking around with faux issues such as the mock outrage associated with President Obama, while exiting Marine One, saluting a United States Marine while holding a cup of coffee (A non-story now as it was when President G.W. Bush (#43) saluted a Marine while carrying his dog off of Marine One) and far too little time doing the important business of the people.  What important business?  I am happy you asked.

How about a little something such as authorizing the proposed twenty-five-year extension of the Zadroga Act?  Let them start with that and work their way outward from that point...

Now who's the man who thinks he can decide
Whose dreams will live and who's shall be pushed aside
Has he ever walked down these streets at night
 And looked into the eyes of  

None baby but the brave
No one baby but the brave
Those strong enough to save

-AK 

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