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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Heroes (03/08/04)

TITLE: My Own Personal Hero
By Leticia Caroccio


My Own Personal Hero

Desperation was quickly setting in. Calls were coming into our middle school office faster than we could answer them. Parents were storming the school, urgently trying to get their kids and run home. Fear was etched on the faces of everyone that dreadful morning of September 11, 2001.

September 11, 2001 is a day that will forever be in the hearts of America and the world. The devastation was beyond anything I have ever witnessed. Although I did not witness the devastation first hand, as a secretary in a New York City school, I did witness the fear and emotions that quickly gripped the city. The horde of people rushing home to be with their loved ones and out of harm’s way was painful to see. The scarcity of taxis and the more than usual overcrowding conditions on the public transportation that was available only added to everyone’s desperate attempt to get home.

I live almost 80 miles from where I work. My children, ages 12 and 13, go to school near our home. They were far from the turmoil and chaos. Yet I found myself, like all other parents who were trying to gather around their family, also wanting to go home and wrap my arms around my loved ones. I wanted to shut those visions out of my memory. On 9/11 was the day that I realized how desperately I needed God in my life.

Personally, I didn’t know anyone who lost their life that morning. I did, however, feel the connection to those heroes, especially the firefighters who bravely marched to their deaths.

I remember the Fall of 1969 when I was carried out of a burning house in the South Bronx by my hero, Firefighter DeMontegue of Hook and Ladder 82. The power and strength of his arms were matched only by the dedication and devotion of his heart for me and for my family. As that fire destroyed our home, we were comforted by Mr. DeMontegue and his firefighting brothers. We owe them our lives and more importantly our prayers.

As I watched the collapse of the Twin Towers, my heart and hope crashed with it. Then I thought about my hero and found the warmth and comfort that I mistakenly thought I had lost. Firemen go into their jobs knowing that they may one day pay the ultimate price. Why do they do it? Not for the glory, I’m sure. Sir DeMontegue, as he is known in our family, did it for the satisfaction he felt in his soul, knowing that he went above and beyond the call of duty. Our appreciation and heartfelt smiles did something to him that would send him again and again into burning building and other dangerous, life-threatening situations.

A hero is someone who displays strength, courage and bravery in the face of unbelievable fear and danger. I not only witnessed the bravery and courage of NYC firefighters on September 11, 2001, I know firsthand what having my own personal hero in my life. Thank you, Sir DeMontegue, and God bless you.

Member Comments
Member Date
Kenny Paul Clarkson03/18/04
This is powerful piece. It reminds me of Paul's admonition in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that of good report. And this is certainly a good report!
Dave Wagner03/20/04
What an outstanding piece. Head and shoulders above most of the rest of the submissions I’ve read…and that is saying a lot, since the quality of this week’s submissions is high indeed.

>> September 11, 2001 is a day that will forever be in the hearts of America and the world.<<

Oh, I wish I could believe this. I know it will be true of me, but I fear that many people bravely began to get past it and go on with their lives, and then felt comfortable back-burnering it, until it receded like a painful memory…out of sigh, out of mind.

As far as “and the world” it’s sad to say that a large number of people will remember it in completely the opposite way…as a day of triumph against America (the great Satan, as many call us). Score one for David against Goliath, you know. So twisted…I can’t believe anyone could be that way, but I know it’s true, sadly.

>> I live almost 80 miles from where I work.<<

Man, what a commute! I don’t envy your gas bill…

>>…Firefighter DeMontegue of Hook and Ladder 82.<<

That is one of the ‘funnest’ sentences to read I can remember…try saying that out loud over and over…pure fun. Please don’t think I’m making fun of this hero, or his heroic deed, because I’m not…it’s just an added perk of reading the story…it sings like a nursery rhyme of something. It’s great.

What a powerful story – your rescue by Sir DeMonegue. That must have been life-changing.

>> We owe them our lives and more importantly our prayers.<<

What a FANTASTIC line. That line is worth the price of admission right there. Excellent indeed.

Thanks for such a great post.
Naomi Deutekom03/21/04
Your opening paragraphs effectively portray the fear and needs of parents on that day. Even in Canada we had the need to be with our families as we watched in horror of the events unfolding. Emotional portrayal is essential to good writing.