Of course, I was horrified and heartbroken by the images and the tragedy, but I didn't have much connection to it personally. Now that I'm married to a firefighter, it took on much more depth of feeling for me, knowing what these heroes left behind at home, and family members' longing and pride for them at the same time. In our family, we speak with a lot of reverence and respect for the heroes of 9/11.
I also have a hard time separating the two topics, because my father-in-law was also a New York firefighter and crew captain, in Freeport, Nassau County, Long Island. I learned that he was friends with, and had trained some of, the firefighters who died in the towers. He also died in September and was buried on September 11, just two years after the attacks. My brother-in-law, the one on the left of the group picture, was already a police officer and firefighter in the town he lived in (which is where my husband and I live now, too), and my husband told me how special of a funeral service it was for Dad, the retired firefighter: his hearse was a vintage fire engine, and two ladder trucks from our city and a neighboring city formed archways with the ladders and flags at the entrance of the cemetary. My father-in-law loved being a firefighter, and sounds like he was one of the nicest, warmest, caring individuals out there. I never had the opportunity to meet him, because he died just two months before I met my husband. But it's because of him that my husband and his brothers love working in the firefighter and police fields that they do. My husband's first memory was walking across the street with his dad to the fire station.
My father-in-law had some serious chronic health conditions, and was living in Utah with my brother-in-law by the time the attacks on 9/11 happened. My husband told me that he was glued to the tv and news all day, in tears. Firefighting isn't a job--it's a way of life, a true brotherhood (sisterhood too), a personality. He truly hurt for the loss of his brother firefighters.
I'd like to think that my father-in-law would be thrilled with my recent quilt design. "Maltese Dresden."
Here is our "honor wall" in the Man Cave. My husband wanted a portrait just like his dad, in his dress uniform. The yellow helmet is my husband's first full-time helmet. The black helmet is battle-scarred and is my father-in-law's helmet.
And speaking of tributes and quilts, I need to talk about a quilt I saw, that was entered in the Home Machine Quilting Show in May 2012, in Sandy, Utah. This quilt absolutely stopped me in my tracks. I'm taking pictures and drooling and nearly crying, when a girl walks by. Something made me talk to her, and she ended up being the designer and maker of the quilt! She had no ties to firefighters or first responders, just felt a need to make a personal tribute to 9/11. She had no idea that others would want to make a version of her quilt. I begged her for her pattern or instructions, but she told me she couldn't, because it was a copywritten image and she had had to get special permission just for herself! I was heartbroken! But still amazed! Her name is Marthe Henderson and titled her quilt "Never Forget".
Remember the original? It's a copywritten photo!