Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ten Years in the Happy Fog

Whenever I think about you,
Strangers eyes in the crowd flash past.
I go on and think of the fate you've cast.
It seems to be a reverie,
You're here with me.
- Marshall Crenshaw

FF John Patrick Burnside
Ladder Company 20 - FDNY

FF John Patrick Burnside met Sandra Endres in Central Park on a summer's day in 1991.  She was in-line skating.  At the time, he had not yet become FF Burnside of Ladder Company 20 in NoLita.  Rather, he was still Officer Burnside of the NYPD.  That afternoon, he was part of the detail assigned to provide security at Central Park's Summerstage while Marshall Crenshaw performed.  For them, it was love at first sight.    

John Burnside, who was just thirty-six years young when he died, spent three years protecting the people of New York City as a member of the NYPD before he moved over to what Sandra called "his dream job" as a firefighter with the FDNY.  He had been with the FDNY - at Ladder 20 - for approximately seven years when the world exploded on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. In addition to being known for his meticulous preparation, for which the other members of Ladder 20 loved him, and his "irrational" (his wife's word, not mine) affection for the Minnesota Vikings, for which they mercilessly ribbed him, FF Burnside served as Ladder 20's union delegate.  He was preparing to take the Lieutenant's exam at the time of his death.    

FF Burnside and his brothers-in-arms from Ladder 20 responded to the World Trade Center before the first alarm had even sounded.  Seven members of Ladder 20, including FF Burnside, died when the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. with them still inside of it - on or near the thirty-fifth floor. 

John and Sandra Burnside had not yet started a family when his life ended tragically, heroically, and far too soon on the morning of September 11, 2001.  They had very much enjoyed their decade-long honeymoon but, shortly before he died, had just started talking about buying a home and starting a family.  On September 10, 2001 it likely seemed to them as if they had all the time in the world to put their plan into action.  Twenty-four hours later, they had none.

But what they had - those ten wonderful years - neither time nor memory can ever fade away.  

And at day's end, nothing else really matters.


No comments: