Five years ago today
Today I dedicating my blog to the memory of a fallen firefighter who died on September 11, 2001, Brian McAleese.
To be honest with you, I had never heard of Brian McAleese until I signed up to do a tribute to a victim of 9/11. His story is like many others, but his loss is felt profoundly by his family, which include his wife, Dawn, and his four children. He also left behind his mother, Ann Marie, as well as his siblings John, Kevin and Maureen. John is a firefighter and Kevin is a city police officer.
When I think about Brian, I think of my husband, and what it would mean to be left behind. I think of Dawn and I think of their four children, and I can't even begin to imagine the loss they feel. I think of my daughter and how she's beginning to understand what 9/11 is all about; I think of my daughter without her father and how that would impact her life. Then I felt guilty because I feel lucky. Lucky to have my husband, even if we fight and argue over the most stupid things. Lucky to be alive.
Five years ago today, men like Brian went into the World Trade Center twin towers to do a job that they were trained to do- save lives and put out fires. They put their lives on the line to try to save people who were stuck and waiting to be rescued. Whenever I see a firefighter, or police officer, my thoughts tend to travel back to that day, thinking about what they do to keep us safe, to maintain order and peace. But on that day, only chaos ensued and no one, including the police and firefighters, had any idea how to handle something of this magnitude. Despite that, they went in and did their jobs to the best of their knowledge, and because of that, over 50 police officers and over 300 firefighters died in the collaspe of the World Trade Center. Could I stand up in a time of sheer chaos and terror and put my life on the line for someone else? Someone I don't even know? Of course, as a mother I would do anything to save my child, but what about a perfect stranger? That's a question I have to ask myself.
Before 9/11/01, Brian was taking on overtime hours to pay for the christening of his son, Aidan, who was 4 months old on 9/11/01. His other children included Liam, who was then 2 years old, Jack, then 4, and Brianne, then 5 and a half years old. A devoted and proud father and husband, Brian loved to host parties, celebrate his Irish heritage, and spending time on the beach with his family. Brian was 36 years old on 9/11.
There is a documentary that tells the story of 9/11 as experienced by the firefighters and police who were there that day as well as 9/11 widows. One story focuses on a fireman from Engine Company 226, Tommy Casatelli, who switched places with Brian on that day. Brian went into the building, Tommy didn't. This movie is called Brothers...on Holy Ground. There is an interview with Tommy, who is overcome with what is known as survivor's guilt, and there is also an interview with Brian's brother, John (another firefighter as mentioned before).
Initially going into this tribute I didn't know what I could say that could even measure up to a person I didn't know who sacrificed so much to help others. What I can say is that I hope that others will understand that of the 3,000+ lives that were lost that day, each life has a personal story behind it and is well worth knowing. I can only hope that I did Brian's family proud and honored his memory by writing this today. There is no way I could ever understand that kind of loss, but I can only imagine it being raw especially on today, the 5th anniversary. I just hope that somehow, the McAleese family has some sort of comfort within each other and with their memories of Brian as a son, as a brother, as a husband, as a father, and as a friend.
May you rest in peace, Brian.
ALTERNATE 2,996 site because the original site is down at the moment.
Newsday.com Victim Search
DVD review Brothers...On Holy Ground