Tuesday, May 24, 2011
As the LAFD USAR Task Force was getting ready to leave, after their initial 2-week tour at Ground Zero, they were shaking hands and one FDNY firefighter grabbed my friends hand--held it firmly--looked him straight in the eye--and deliberately spoke those four words. I heard this from my LAFD friend who had just returned from Ground Zero. He told me this because I asked him what touched him the most after spending two weeks there working alongside the FDNY, trying to recover fellow firefighters who were lost in the rubble of the World Trade Centers.
These four words led me to start the 9/11 Patch Project nearly 10 year ago. The project would produce a 9/11 Tribute Patch for all firefighter uniforms--a way to honor fallen brothers--a reminder of what we all signed up for--and a way to raise funds for the families of the fallen. I was a firefighter/paramedic of 15 years at the time, working in Southern California.
In the first year of the 9/11 Patch Project, mailers were sent to all fire departments across our nation. Some took the mail as junk and tossed it--some thought it the work of an opportunist wanting to capitalize on the death of firefighters to make money, and tossed it--and some ordered patches and continue to wear them on their uniforms to this day. The first run of patch orders brought over $15,000 that was donated to the FDNY Uniform Firefighters Association on September 11, 2002.
Today, I still send mailers but reluctantly. More of them are thrown away as Chiefs and Union Presidents remain skeptical or just feel it's time to move on. I send emails but most are taken as spam and are deleted or just ignored. The 9/11 Patch Project newsletter is even shrinking--and most are on the list because they made a purchase or signed on at some point and time.
What recently inspired me to write this blog was a response I received from the Idaho Fire Chiefs Association after asking for their help to spread the word about the 9/11 Patch Project's 10 Year 9/11 Anniversary Plans to their State's Firefighters. One of the Board Members of the IFCA brought it up at one of their meetings and he told me there was just not enough interest in the project. WOW...have we really forgotten? Or is that just the feeling of the Fire Chief's in Idaho? (one of the first major 10 Year 9/11 Anniversary Tour stops was in Jerome, Idaho.) I don't fault the messenger as I truly believe he thought highly of the project. Still on the other hand, the Nevada Fire Chiefs Association posted the info right on their home page. You can see it still there listed as the 2nd bullet point. Hit and miss but mostly miss! It's a lot of work but I never quit!
Even after 10 Years have gone by--many in America seemed to have moved on. Or at least the fire departments across the nation. Even with an endorsement from the FDNY Uniformed Fire Officers Association--fire departments remain skeptical or have just moved on. It's sad but I have witnessed the decline in support over the years, first hand.
You see when this project began nearly 10 years ago it was about remembering--not just for a year or two--remembering was supposed to mean forever.
As for me and the history of the 9/11 Patch Project, I will continue to remember and try and help the world continue to remember the heroes of 9/11. I'm not obsessed--I just feel a duty to continue responding to the words of one FDNY Firefighter nearly 10 years ago, who asked us on behalf of his brother FDNY Firefighters to never forget. Will you continue to remember? If you are a Fire Chief, will you lead--inspire--make your firefighters feel strong--try and bridge the enormous gap between chiefs and rank and file? Or will you tell them like a parent tells a child, it's time to forget about it and move on?
If you want to remember and continue to support the project, know that when you purchase the items on the project website that you are also contributing to the 9 year fund raising effort.
Monday, May 16, 2011
The 9/11 Flag seen flying in front of this home belongs to a supporter of the 9/11 Patch Project and a supporter of the heroes that gave it all on 9/11.
The flag measures 3' X 5' and is a standard size flag. There are two sides of the flag sewn together to make it durable and able to withstand extreme weather conditions. Both sides are mirrored images so that when put together, has the stars and strips both right and left positioned--like a normal American Flag.
The material is a strong nylon/polyester and due to the double material--it will not tear during extreme wind conditions. The flag was made this way to ride on top of or behind fire apparatus and stay in tact.
However people decide to display the 9/11 Flag, it is the 9/11 Patch Project's hope that all American's across our land with show their support this 10 Year Anniversary of 9/11, by getting one or two.
As is the case with the 9/11 Patches and Decals, these flags are also used to raise funds for the FDNY Bravest Scholarship Fund, The Terry Farrell Fund and the Feal Good Foundation.
Other fire departments have elected to also fly the flag from the top of their apparatus or even hang it on the rear of the apparatus as a banner.
Get your 9/11 Flags here: 9/11 FLAG
Monday, May 9, 2011
|Belgian Firefighter "Bob"|
No politics--no cultural differences--no boundaries, just a firefighter honoring the loss of hundreds of FDNY firefighters many thousands of miles away. Even though the patch bears the image of our U.S. Flag, he wears this patch from another country right on the front of his uniform.
Bob is not alone. Even today, nearly 10 years later, orders from Belgium come into the 9/11 Patch Project regularly. And Belgium is not alone, as orders from Germany, Sweden, Japan, China, Italy, Malta, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries continue to come in as firefighters and citizens alike, from these other countries, want to show their support for the lost heroes of 9/11.
|Italian Father and Son Firefighters|
No back slapping and celebrating here; whether it's one of the 4 patches, decals, pins or flags, that people wear or display, it sends a clear message to folks around the world: We are united, strong, tenacious, enduring...WE ARE ONE!
With Bin Laden dead and forever lost at sea, we can move forward this 10th Anniversary of 9/11/01. We will still not forget the brave sacrifice our heroes made nearly 10 year ago but the patches, decals, pins and flags sends a message to the world that despite the time that's passed--the resiliency of our nations--WE WILL TRULY NEVER FORGET those that perished at the will of the most hated evil doer in the world.
So do you have your patch? Does your organization wear it already? There's no sunset to this project--remembering is forever. So pick your patch or decal up now and be counted.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
The 40-ton bus is on fire! It barrels down the open highway but no smoke can be seen billowing from its monstrous orange-red body. Look a little closer and you’ll see that it is actually wrapped with photographed fire scenes—well known structure fires that have occurred over the years in major U.S. cities. On the side of the bus in gigantic letters is the URL, FIRECAREERS.COM. look in your rear view mirror as you see the bus gaining on you and you’ll see a giant American Flag on the hood. It’s not an ordinary flag—it’s the iconic image of the 9/11 We Will Never Forget patch. Towards the bottom of the graphic you’ll see the WTC skyline with the silhouette of a firefighter holding an axe—rising above the Twin Towers. Just over the head of the firefighter is the date September 11, 2001. And at the bottom of the gold-bordered design, are the words WE WILL NEVER FORGET.
The bus is driven by retired Fire Captain Craig Freeman with his wife, Pam, navigating and constantly communicating with those hosting the next tour stop of the 10 Year 9/11 Manhattan to Manhattan Tour—a tour that left Manhattan Beach Fire Department in California with the goal of reaching Manhattan, New York, before 9/11/11. The tour is a joint effort with the 9/11 Patch Project to spread awareness of the 10 Year mark of 9/11 and raise donations through the sale of the 9/11 patches, decals, pins and flags. The fund raising mission will benefit the FDNY Bravest Scholarship Fund, Terry Farrell Fund and the Feal Good Foundation—all New York based non-profits.
Three months prior to the FareCareers.com departure Craig met up with Brett Hill, founder of the 9/11 Patch Project, who was in a bit of a quandary. Brett had really wanted to host the West Coast 9/11/11 event but couldn’t find a venue or enough supporters to raise the 10’s of thousands necessary to make this happen. With Craig taking his company on the road for 9 months, it made sense to combine efforts and take the 10 Year Anniversary of 9/11 to communities across the nation. With the future of their company at risk, Craig and Pam still offered to make it happen.
The 9/11 Patch Project—is a project created 3 months after 9/11 with the goals of manufacturing and distributing special 9/11 uniform tribute patches for all Fire, Emt, Police and U.S. Military uniforms. The project was also designed to raise funds for the families of those lost on 9/11 and create unity among all emergency and military personnel. Over the past 9 years, the project grew to involve the participation of over 7,000 organizations in 22 countries. The 9/11 Patches can be seen on thousands of U.S. Firefighter uniforms, on the uniforms of foreign firefighters and on 1000’s of deployed U.S. troop military clothing—including our U.S. Navy SEAL’s.
“Don’t miss the bus,” has become the tour’s special saying as they roll though one horse towns, major cities and critical weather impacted areas. Space on the both sides of the bus enables people, companies and organizations to ride along with the tour. Getting their 1 foot enlarged logos and 2” lettering on the side of the bus gives advertisers/sponsors high visibility while helping fund the 20,000 mile journey with an average fuel cost of $1 per mile.
What makes this journey suddenly more incredible for Craig Pam and Brett, is the death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of the 9/11 Patch wearing U.S. navy SEAL’s. This anniversary of 9/11 will not be like the others—the man behind the most heartless and tragic attacks on American Citizens, is gone forever and will no longer share the spotlight with the innocent American’s he killed, nearly 10 years ago. It is a special 9/11 anniversary this year—one that FireCarrrers.com and the 9/11 Patch Project is proud to share with fellow Americans across this beautiful and Osama-terror-free land.