Today is a hard day. The world has seemed to forgotten what happened 21 years ago. Thousands of innocent people killed in a matter of hours. It was so traumatic in my life. I remember asking Joe if he remembered that day. He was nearly 7 and said he remembered me crying a lot. Joe, Tim, and I lived in Colorado Springs, CO at the time, in an apartment. Rich was still stationed in North Dakota at the time. In fact, he had been to the Pentagon just a couple of days prior on a TDY. We were on Mountain Time, so we were getting ready for school for Joe. He was wearing his Tiger Cub Scout uniform to school for the first time. He was so proud of that uniform. He would wear other uniforms in his lifetime….for the Army and as a fireman. The ripple effects of that day to the young ones….first graders….then as young adults, they were in the military and serving in the Middle East against the war on terror that started on that fateful day.
Today, Joe’s best friend did what he does every year. He donned his full firefighter bunker gear and climbed 110 flights of stairs in memory of the fallen firefighters in 2001 that climbed all those stairs to save people from the twin towers and in turn, gave their lives. Joe had gone with Zac on these memorial climbs to cheer him on. Today he was supposed to join him in his bunker gear and they were to do it side-by-side….instead, he carries the leather strap on his uniform that bears Joe’s name on it on his uniform with him. I hope Zac knows that Joe is with him today as he does his climb…just as he is with him on every call he answers with his crew. Michelle and two of Joe’s closest friends did a memorial climb yesterday at a stadium. They wore their Joe Messina memorial t-shirts and I am so proud of all of them. They are honoring his memory in the most wonderful ways.
So today I was really missing Joe. Sundays are just really hard. Joe was born on a Sunday and then also died on a Sunday. Sundays are hard. We were at our church and I saw that we would be singing hymn #446 in our hymnals. #446 is Joe’s OFD firefighter badge number. I wear a OFD badge pendant with #446 on it and a message about Joe on the back. I wear it everyday. I have been pretty open about the fact that my faith life is in a desert right now. I am really struggling. However, when I looked up what song it was, I smiled when I saw it was “Amazing Grace.” The Holy Spirit and Joe were surrounding me at that moment, as I felt it wasn’t a coincidence.
Today I will share some pretty old photos of a young Joe….when he showed signs of wanting to be in the military and a fireman when he was little…and then pictures of him more recently as those dreams came to fruition. September 11th marked all of us that were adults at the time, but it really had a trickle down effect on the youngsters as well.