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Old 09-11-2019, 02:00 PM
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Default 9/11 Never Forget

This was a letter addressed to Bluffton Township Fire District, following my visit of the Ten Year Anniversary, which I attended all ten, and was subsequently my last. I felt the Department should know.



Hello Brothers and Sisters,

I wanted to to take a few minutes of your time to share some information with each and every member of this organization in regard to September 11th and I apologize for its length. This is something that I have written many times in my mind, but now I feel that needs to be shared.

In June of 2001, I had the opportunity to visit the Casatelli family in Brooklyn, New York, for FDNY's Medal Day. Tommy was receiving a Medal for a rescue he had performed the previous year. (For those of you who do not know, Tommy's younger brother, Steven, worked with us in the 90's.) I had dug 400 local clams, and my buddy from Cape Cod met me in Brooklyn, at Engine 226, with 300 Wellfleet oysters. Upon arrival, the Captain welcomed us after Stevens introductions to the crew, and quickly sent the three of us to the corner bodega for "a dozen eggs". With shellfish??? It was code for a case of Bud!

Dinner was "Over The Top"! No one would let us near the kitchen. Followed by a ride along, which proved to be exhilarating, to say the least. A ride like I have never experienced in almost thirty years in the fire service. I'm really happy there were no cameras in that apparatus. The next day we boarded a commercial bus, chartered by FDNY, at curbside of the Casatelli residence. Forty eight, mostly family, and friends. The ceremony was most impressive, and ran well into the night, all on the City's tab. It was Nuts!

Three months later the Towers fell. A call to Steven as soon as his cell could hit a tower and BTFD had our assignment. "The guys need socks, leather boots, and leather gloves!" We found an enclosed trailer and the community filled it on the back pad of the now, old Station 30. It was amazing. Some of us had gone to donate blood, and it was as though the trailer was filled by the time we returned. It truly was amazing.

The trailer made its way up to Engine 226 within a very few days. I believe FF. Keith and Lt. Grubowski drove it up, if I remember correctly. I made it up the next month as part of my annual pilgrimage to Cape Cod fall striper fishing. The firehouse was decorated with the flowers still being dropped off by neighbors missing their crew. At that point the dig was pretty much over and no one wanted to go back to Ground Zero. I continued to return to Brooklyn on each and every Anniversary. They had become mundane, repetitious and each year people began to forget, in my perception, anyway.

In 2011, I returned for the Ten Year Anniversary. And this was like no other. It began on a cool, clear morning much like the original 9/11. Myself, Steven and Tommy, along with his young daughter, made our way down to Coney Island, just below the Ferris Wheel, where the entire parking lot was roped off. This year the City of New York had decided to have a Memorial dedicated to each of the five Boros, unbennounced to me. As 8:30 approached, the Brass was assembling near the podium, and Engines and Trucks began entering and staging with on duty personnel. Soon I felt encompassed in a "Sea of Blue" Class A dressed firefighters. Easily over one hundred strong. The Ceremony was beautiful, and humbling. At the conclusion, the "Sea of Blue" appeared to be parting, as a big, smiling individual approached in just another Class A. It was Mark Phillips! Another individual I had the priviledge of knowing and working with here at BTFD. As good as it was to see him, it was grounding to realize in this biggest of events, it truly is a small world.

Next, we returned to the firehouse of 226. (Of course, after we turned the corner so Tommy could buy us a couple of Nathan Hot Dogs). The firehouse was PACKED with people! Officials, On Duty Staff, local Priests, and a shit ton of people from the neighborhood. The block was shut down on both ends for the entire day. The men of 226 had the entire one bay rig room filled with fully catered food. I mingled and meandered outside the house, feeling a little out of place, until someone addressed me wearing a white shirt. As I turned I met a ten year older gentleman than I had enjoyed my ride along with just a decade earlier! Soon I realized that everyone from those days was returning to 226 for this Anniversary, and all of my friends had become White Shirts and it was like I was family in that house. In fact, the Captain that had sent us for "the dozen eggs" was there as serious Brass, asked me how I was doing, and thanked me again for the shellfish dinner!

Soon the Priest was speaking, and then some White Shirts, and then some Blue Shirts. At this point I was overwhelmed and found myself sitting directly across the street, on the stoop of a brownstone. I was content there, taking in the entire scene. Until, once again, I found myself grounded. It was difficult to hear from my vantage point, but the speaker was another gentleman from Pre-9/11. Yes, one from the ride of a lifetime. He was addressing what had happened ten years earlier. In his speech, he had acknowledged the Bluffton Township Fire District, and town of Bluffton, South Carolina, for its quick service and response in the days following. That's when it hit home for me. We had assisted in a meaningful manner, and had been acknowledged for it. The speaker had not known at the time that we were present. And I apologize for not sharing this story with each and every one of you until now.

Captain/FF/EMT M. Vezzosi
Disabled/PTSD
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:59 PM
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Well worth the time to read:
http://baseballcrank.com/archives2/2...aseball_st.php
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