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Topic: Heroes (03/08/04)
TITLE: My Own Personal Hero
By Leticia Caroccio
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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 harmís 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 everyoneís 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 didnít 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, Iím 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.