Before Bruce had even headed to work on Sunday September 9, 2001, we had decided he would spend Monday night at the firehouse. After all, why drive all the way back home when he was working a day tour on Tuesday September 11?
On Monday evening, September 10, Bruce had called home to see how his girls were doing. That conversation was so ordinary that I remember none of it. I most likely ended that call with the words “I love you,” as was my habit.
What I know of his experiences on September 11 has been pieced together from speaking with firefighters from Squad 41. An early call had come into the firehouse before the 9:00 am shift change. Bruce had volunteered to go on that run so the firefighter he was relieving could leave a little early.
As Squad 41 had been returning to quarters, the first plane hit 1 WTC, the North Tower.
The men were redirected to Squad 18 in Manhattan.
The second plane hitting 2 WTC, the South Tower, rerouted the firefighters again, this time straight to the World Trade Center site.
They entered 2 WTC, began climbing the stairs, came across injured civilians, and began escorting them from the building.
Bruce was probably on the first sky lobby when the building collapsed.
I didn’t know any of this until his body was found in March 2002.
But some things I had known for years: Bruce was a well–trained member of the FDNY, he was living his dream, and he was willing to lay down his life to save others. We both had accepted that death was a possibility. I understood that his decision to go into the building on September 11 was made long before that day arrived.
When Bruce received the news in March 1990 that he’d been appointed to the FDNY, he wrote me this letter:
“Dear Ann, I never thought that this day would ever happen. In 1973 in California, I read Report from Engine Co. 82. Those people in the book seemed out of reach. Never did I dream that I would be a NYC firefighter. I never thought I had what it took to be a firefighter in the Big Apple. This could not have been possible without your encouragement and love. I thank the Lord for you and this day. I’ll always love you.”
He added one more thought.
“See you later.”
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