Saturday, June 4, 2016

Forever Teaching

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, FDNY Lieutenant Vernon Allan Richard of Tower Ladder Company 7 in Kips Bay died in the South Tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.  Of the 343 members of the FDNY who died that day, six of them - including Lt. Richard - were members of Ladder 7.  He was fifty-three years old.  Five days after his death, the FDNY promoted Vernon Richard, who had first joined the FDNY in 1977, to the rank of Captain.  

Vernon Richard was born in Brooklyn and graduated from Boys & Girls High School there.  Prior to beginning his career in the FDNY, Vernon Richard was a member of this nation's armed forces.  His pre-FDNY civilian life included a stint working for Con Edison.  At the time he joined the FDNY in 1977, he and his wife, Dorothy, already were the parents of two children.  

During the fifty-three years that he lived, Vernon Richard developed a reputation for being a man who never turned his back on his family, on his friends, on the members of the FDNY alongside whom he served, or on the city that he loved.  For a decade, his family and friends had championed the cause of a high school in Brooklyn being named in Captain Richard's honor.  There were times when - no doubt - their odds of success appeared long - in spite of the support and blessing of the City's Department of Education and the FDNY.  However, their perseverance paid off. 

Just a few days ago, it was announced that on June 30, 2016, a ceremony shall be held at the FDNY High School in East New York, Brooklyn, at which time the high school shall be renamed in honor of Captain Richards.  When school begins in September, 2016, the high school's students shall walk the hallowed halls of the Captain Vernon A. Richard High School for Fire & Life Safety.  

Daniel Nigro, FDNY Commissioner, summed up what this honor means to Captain Richard, his family (including his widow, Dorothy, who is presently battling cancer), and all of those whose lives he touched, "Captain Richard spent more than two decades bravely serving our city.  His memory, and the selfless heroism he displayed on September 11th, will serve to inspire future generations of FDNY members."  

Not to mention countless others - including Yours truly - who admire those folks such as Vernon Richard who selflessly perform a task that we never could.  In life and in death.   

Capt. Vernon A. Richard
FDNY - Ladder 7


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