- By Kyle Van Pelt
- Published: September 6th, 2011
LU student’s personal reflection on Sept. 11, 2001, events
My brother had only been on the NYC Fire Squad for about two years in 2001. He was married in 1998 while living in Florida working for a local fire department and decided to follow his dream to become a New York City Fireman. The reason I mention this is because of an important conversation that took place between him and my mother.
When they were discussing his move to NYC, my mom was worried about the increased danger that would ensue. Then my brother said something that truly confirmed that this was his dream: “Mom, you need to know this. I hope it gives you comfort. Just know that if I ever die in the line of duty, that I died happy without any regret.”
September 11, 2001, I was in seventh grade English with Mrs. Turner when we saw the second plane hit the tower. I did not know what to think. I saw all of the rescue squads working fiercely, but for some reason it did not sink in that my brother was involved.
My brother was a member of the Rescue 5 squad. Rescue 5 was tasked with running into the buildings and getting people out until they couldn’t any more. It was my brother’s day off, but like a true firefighter, he rushed to the disaster site right after the towers collapsed and picked up where his fallen colleagues had left off.
If it were not his day off, he would have been buried under the piles of rubble fulfilling his duty. Those firefighters put their lives on the line when it was necessary. He lost many friends that day.
Finally, after hours without knowing whether or not my brother was alive, my brother handed a piece of paper to a stranger with a phone number and said to the man, “Call my wife and tell her I’m okay.”
After his wife got the call and calmed down, she called us to let us know that he was okay. The only reason my brother is still alive today is because it was his day off. If it were a typical workday for him, he would have been running into the buildings vehemently attempting to save as many people as possible.
He spent weeks pulling bodies out of the disastrous rubble with little to no sleep. Like a war veteran, my brother hates talking about that day. He says he has never seen anything like it and probably never will again. I know that my family and I could not be any more proud of his actions on that day. He did everything right and I thank God that he is still alive.