Overcoming Obstacles: A 9/11 Tribute

Today isn’t about me or where I was that day or even what I thought or felt. Today is about renewing a sense of pride in America, all that we stand for and honoring those that never lost sight of that.

On Sunday, September 7, 2014, I was introduced to Firefighter Dennis M. Carey – Haz-Mat 1. We not-so-formally got to know one another as we climbed 110 flights of stairs together – unfortunately he got to know me a heck of a lot better than I did him.

Mr. Carey hung on my neck drenched in sweat for just under an hour as I climbed 22 flights of stairs five times. He patiently and quietly encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to stop and he left me with a need to know more about him when we finished the climb.

I thought we would have to part ways but to my humbled delight, I got to take Mr. Carey home with me.

On September 11, 2001, Firefighter Dennis M. Carey, Haz-Mat 1 gave his all to help save the victims of this attack… on his day off.

Dennis was on his was to a routine physical when the alarm sounded and his call to duty trumped his personal plans for the day. I got to take Mr. Carey home with me in the form of a plastic tag issued to me at the Memorial Stair Climb.

It wasn’t until several weeks after the attacks that Dennis’ wife, Jeanne was able to bring her husband home with her.

Jeanne and Dennis were married for 32 years and this strong, beautiful woman embraced her husband’s ultimate sacrifice with grace and gratitude. There are multiple media accounts of Jeanne expressing absolute peace knowing she and Dennis and their two children lived their lives to the fullest.

Dennis loved to cook and was known in his family (both personal and at the firehouse) for following his Bon Appetit magazine recipes to the T. His favorite holiday was Thanksgiving and his wife knew he would have wanted a full table – so that’s just what she had!

Dennis was 51 years old and seven months away from retirement. They had plans to travel and their first stop would be Aruba.

Since her husband’s passing, Jeanne has ensured that Dennis’ joys have lived on. She never turns down an invitation from a fellow firefighter widow and remains active in Dennis’ firehouse. Jeanne and her family celebrate Dennis each year formally and always in their thoughts and daily activities.

What a blessing it must be to find love like this. Not only the love Jeanne and Dennis clearly had for one another but a love that is so strong and accepting of what life brings, nothing can tear it down. Dennis had a love for life, a passion for cooking and a unwavering commitment to his duties as a Firefighter.

You can read more about Dennis and his family at the links below.

New York Times: Living with Loss

Newsday: Long Island Remembers

Ocala Star Banner: FDNY firefighter remembered as hero

Today isn’t about me or where I was that day or even what I thought or felt. Today is about renewing a sense of pride in America, all that we stand for and honoring those that never lost sight of that. 

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