"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
~~John 15:13, NIV

Hi all,

It's so hard to believe that it's been fifteen years since the attacks of September 11, 2001.  No doubt like many of you, I've been spending the day remembering the lives that were lost, the bravery, and the many acts of human kindness, large and small, that stood in beautiful contrast to the destructive hate that began the day. 

In the wake of September 11th, JABB went on hiatus for the first and last time.  This is the first time, since then, that a JABB newsletter has been due on this date.  I'll admit I was tempted to take a week's hiatus again.  I just wasn't sure what to do with today's newsletter.  At the time of the 10th anniversary, I wrote the story "In the Palm of His Hand" and based it off my own recollections of that difficult day, projecting those memories onto Andrew and JenniAnn.  I don't feel like I can write anything more that won't seem like rehashing that piece.  Thankfully, Kim has penned a story that's meant to be a journal entry by Sean, a Friend, Dyelander, and firefighter in NYC.  We hope reading it will be meaningful to you as we remember the many, many lights that shone in the darkness of that day in New York City, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

God bless,


Some Gave All
by Kim

September 11, 2016

Kemara’s worried about me. I’m sitting on the porch writing this, and I know she’s looking out the window every five minutes.

We just got back from church at Calvary Lutheran. Walter had all the first responders stand up. I was surprised at how many of us there were. Shouldn’t have been as large as NYC is.  I’m a guy, so I’m not supposed to talk about feelings and this probably sounds soppy, but that made the realize for the first time how connected we all are.

The FDNY sort of swallows you up. It touches your whole life whether you want it to or not. The summer was pretty intense - training at The Rock four days a week, working 24 hour shifts with Engine 23 every Friday, fundraising, BBQs, football (Man, that was a brawl!). And 9/11 was always in the background. I could forget about it for a while, but then it would hit me.

On June 17 (I remember the date because I keep the Mass card in this journal) most of the department turned out on Long Island for Chief Larry Stack’s funeral. He died when the towers fell, and his body was never found. In May, his family learned that he had donated two vials of blood. So the Catholic church said it was enough for a funeral. Don’t get me started on THAT! It wasn’t the first funeral of a firefighter I’d ever been to - there was my grandpa for one - but it was my first wearing the uniform. I watched his sons, they’re firefighters too - see what I mean? - helping carry his casket and I thought: Are you really sure you want to do this?

Yeah, a little late for self-analysis. But the question kept coming up.

Couple of weeks later, my class took the now traditional visit to the Memorial Museum. We’d all been before, of course. They didn’t believe me when I said my wife and I had our first date there.

I guess Joshua was plotting even that far back. Thanks, man. You found me a good one. She never complains (at least not to me) when I end up working overtime, and she's always sending treats for the guys. Her cooking's improved by leaps and bounds! Seriously though. I couldn't do this without her. She keeps me grounded.

When we were going through the museum I started watching the younger recruits, the ones just out of school. I could tell most of them were awed and wanted to have people call them heroes.

And I guess that’s what I’ve been wrestling with, especially today.

When I was a kid, all I could see was the excitement. Fire is dangerous! Firefighters are paid to do dangerous and exciting things! Firefighters save people! You get the idea. But none of that is why I’m doing it now. Well, the saving people part was really the crux of it. At Chrysalis Court I felt so useless. And I realized that being a husband, a dad, a son, a brother and a friend wasn’t enough. I NEED to help people in some way.

I don’t consider myself a hero. I haven’t carried a baby out of a burning building yet, or rescued a trapped victim after a car crash. I have kept a family’s home from being destroyed along with all their possessions and a lifetime’s worth of memories. Last week, I reunited a puppy with the kids who loved him. Maybe I was their hero then? I don’t know.

But those things are part of my job. Just like climbing the towers in 2001 was the job for those guys. I saw a picture on Facebook of the towers burning, and the caption said, “Remember the day when police and firefighters were the biggest heroes on the planet?”

That’s a hard act to follow. How do I explain to Ian and Joy why their daddy risks his life every day? They pounded it into us at school: “A fundamental mission for the FDNY is to protect the lives and property of New York City residents and visitors.” I remember it word for word. But how can my kids and the rest of my family understand that I might die saving the life of someone I’ve never even met? Does that person’s life mean more than my own?

During his sermon Walter mentioned the “greater love,” verse. I’m no Joshua….I try of course, but I’m nowhere close. My life’s pretty great right now and I don’t want to give it up.

I hope it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, I’ll be ready. I owe it to them.


Sean laid down his pen. It would do - for now. He closed the journal and ran a finger over the maltese cross on the cover.

“Feeling better?”

Kemara stood in the doorway holding the ten-month-old twins. Sean went over kissed her.

“Yeah, I think so.” Joy reached out for him with her little hands. He cuddled her close, breathing in the familiar scent of lavender and baby powder. He looked out at the clear blue sky above a sea of endless waves and smiled at his family.

“Come on, let’s go build a sandcastle.”

Kemara smiled back, reassured.

As they stepped off the porch into the warm sand, Sean thought, “Rest in peace, guys. We’ve got this.”


This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye and to all of those who use their talents to spread hope and love.

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