(Last year I wrote a post to honor those in emergency services who’d lost their lives on Sept. 11th. There’s no need to sing the same song one year later, and yet there is, to a certain extent. You can read it here.)

Today marks nine years since 343 of the FDNY perished in the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Today means nine years have passed since those boys answered their last alarm.

Today means that enough time has passed wherein some may dismiss the awesome loss incurred that day.

But that’s a fools errand. And I say that without a trace of sarcasm.

To the families of those who lost those dear to them that day, I can offer this:

Their sacrifice, while needless and bloody and violent, was not in vain.

Theirs is not a silent testimony to acts of bravery; rather, they live on in our hearts and souls as heroes and fathers and sons who perished in the selfless act of executing their duty.

Today flags around our country will stand at half mast in your honor, and while that is of little consolation to the families you left behind, I hope they know how grateful the rest of us are.

Many talk a good game of bravado. Many athletes are held up as heroes, as are actors and others of dubious celebrity; but it is the everyman, as embodied by the police officer, the firefighter, the people flying coach who won’t let a coward box-knife his way into martyrdom, that deserves our thanks.

Your families miss you, without a doubt, and this fireman raises the glass with all due respect.

Thank you.