Remembering Our Past

Remembering Our Past

Clare Reid , Sports Editor

On September 12, a day after the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, juniors in Coach Skeen’s third period US History class were treated with a special guest speaker: Steve Bailey, a former firefighter who helped during the attacks. Mr. Bailey, whose son is a junior at Lambert, was a member of FDNY Ladder 34 on September 11, 2001, and spoke eloquently about his experiences on that fateful day. He passed around mementos from his time working in the cleanup effort, such as his helmet, a few postcards that he found at Ground Zero, and a crushed soda can still covered in dust and ash from the buildings. Of the attacks, he said, “Everybody had someone that they lost…I actually lost my best friend. He had three little kids. It was tough.” However, he said that we were lucky in the death count being so low – each tower held about 50,000 people. “We dug for a year to clean things up,” Bailey added. “The area was actually about 100 acres, and there were seven buildings that burned, not just the two towers.” The rubble was as deep as a twenty story building, and fires underneath the pile raged to about 500º Fahrenheit.

The attacks, while devastating in death toll, also left a profound effect on everyone who survived. “It made firefighting not fun anymore…very few men left the department, though. In fact, actually, many more came in.” But this effect was not only psychological. Many firefighters and first responders were diagnosed with more serious complications due to the asbestos and concrete dust that they inhaled. Mr. Bailey himself has intestinal cancer, asthma, and a chronic bacterial infection. “I was lucky that they caught it early with me,” he added. Many others were not as lucky.

Mr. Bailey’s poignant stories clearly touched many of the students in the class, and his speech was met with a very supportive response. Stories like Bailey’s are what will keep the memory alive of that tragic day and the days that followed, and will ensure that the future generations, who were not yet born, never forget what happened before them.