It was just two days prior to the anniversary of 9/11, when I called my pastor, Chris Centolla, to talk to him about the recent men's prayer breakfast held at our church in Summit Valley. During my conversation with Chris, I told him about how much joy I find in hearing the sound of men laughing with one another and how it reminded me of some of my more pleasant and memorable times that I had while working as a fire fighter.


Within my 30 year career as a fire fighter, I can still recall times of both laughter and tears, which were shared with many of the men that I worked with. Even after retiring from the fire service almost sixteen years ago, many of the sights, sounds and smells that I'd collected during that time period, can easily arouse senses within me, that lead me to relive distant memories.


September 11, 2001 has become a very special day in history for me. Like millions of Americans on that day, I watched in horror as the "twin towers" fell, crushing thousands inside. Personally, I lost over 300 brother firefighters that day that I didn't know by name, yet still knew them, for the same basic mind set and spirit that makes up the character of all fire fighters that is universally spun together, by threads of adversity and everyday life experiences.


Soon after September 11, 2001, my youngest daughter, Becky, gifted m with a large book entitled "BROTHERHOOD," written by Frank Mc Court. For the most part, the book is a pictorial review of some of the empty New York City stations that remained the same after the attack, along with some of the equipment and personal belongings left behind by the brave firefighters, who never made it back to their respective stations. To this day, I've never been able to get beyond page 12 of this book, because it's still just too painful for me to continue on turning its pages. In place of pictures that should have been filled with life and laughter, only the silent emptiness of forgotten dreams remains. Yes, there are times when "silence can be golden," but for me, the silence that I feel on each and every September 11th is not to be golden, but instead will always remain deafening.