When Chris Messina sent us this video, he did so with a strong and positive message about law enforcement. With all the police shootings and innocent lives lost in recent years, it’s a message that people in 2016 often forget when they think about the men and women who protect and serve this great nation.
Having my Father there on September 11th. And the tension between law enforcement in todays society. I want people to remember what the uniform is really all about. As many don’t hesitate to flee the scene, the men and women in uniform don’t hesitate to run towards it.
After learning that Messina’s father was a first responder on 9/11, I followed up and asked him to provide a few more details of his father’s story. He did (and it is a crazy story), but he also made it clear to me that this video wasn’t just about one man, it was about all the brave men and women who ran towards the scene on 9/11.
So my Father was a lieutenant in the 102 precinct on September 11th.
A call comes over the radio that a plane hit the World Trade Center, when they got that call they believed it was an exaggeration. I even remember being in middle school and someone said a plane crashed into the World Trade center, it was just confusion and disbelief.
But for them to get a call to go in they knew it had to be something.
So the 102 needed to put teams together to head into Manhattan. My Father starts putting his squad together which included a handful of rookies. Not really knowing the whole situation he goes to the precincts TV and turns it on and sees the North Tower burning…and in a matter of seconds he sees another explosion in the South Tower. “That was fucking live!” he yelled as he watched the second plane crash into the South Tower. Knowing the severity of the situation my Father’s ‘dad instincts’ kicked in and didn’t want to bring the rookies anymore. Instead, he swapped them out, reassembled his team and they left for the World Trade Center.
It was a blur of lights and sirens speeding through the streets, and down the wrong side of the road just trying to get there as fast as they could. They eventually had to leave their vehicles because they couldn’t get through traffic any more. They had a meet up point on along Pine Street only a few blocks from the World Trade Center. This is where they were given their assignments. When my Father tells the story, I can still feel the sense of urgency.
“Boss, where are we going!”
“Were working on it”
“Boss, you see that shit, where am I going!?”
“The North Tower, get to the North Tower!”
I remember being released early from school and in the hallways kids screaming “were going to war!” My mother picked me up and she was in tears, saying “your dad’s there!” I still couldn’t picture what was going on until I got home and turned on the TV, to see the building in smoke, knowing my family and I were just there a month before, and now knowing my Father was there.
My Father and his team start making their way up Pine Street towards the North Tower, on their way they ran passed a Duane Reade, my dad grabbed the biggest tub they could find and they all scattered in the store and grabbed all the first aid kit supplies and any masks they could find.
“Alright, lets move!” My Father directed the team.
One of the female officers said she had to go to the bathroom
My Father yelled at them, ‘No! Lets go!”
But she insisted she had to use the bathroom. For women it requires them to remove their belts, which requires someone to stand by and they didn’t want to split up so they waited. My dad stared at his watch the entire time, trying to rush them along. Finally, they head towards the North Tower. The moment they got to One Liberty Plaza my Father’s partner yelled, “Is that the trains?” “No the trains aren’t running!” That’s the moment they stopped short and sprinted inside One Liberty Plaza as the North Tower came crashing down.
They watched people and trucks get blown down the street like tumbleweed and then the streets went black.
Out of all the cop stories my Father tells, this is the one that we never get to the ending of. And he lives with the fact that his life was saved because one of the cops had to go to the bathroom.
That was only the beginning of the chaos and horror that he went through and this story is never easy for my Father to tell, and I can imagine it’s the same for many people involved that day.
To this day, my Father continues to protect the people of New York.
Proud of that guy every day and the upmost respect for all of New York’s first responders.
As we approach the 15th anniversary of 9/11, it’s stories like this that we need to remember. The anniversary of 9/11 is not only about the men and women who lost their lives in the horrific attack, it’s a time to also remember the brave few who willingly walked towards death in an effort to save their fellow man.
Thanks for sharing your father’s story with us, Chris.
(H/T Chris Messina)