Monday, September 11, 2006
Bob Beckwith...America's Fire Fighter
No self-respecting blogger will let today go by without some tribute to the catastrophy that changed our country 5 years ago today. Some of those changes aren't good. For instance, the fear we live in and the element of anxiety we carry that anyday, any minute, this could happen again. But some changes were good. Right after the attack, we joined together as never before. The man standing next to you was seen for his patriotism instead of his color or race. The news on that day and for days to come changed raidly and was constantly updated, thus the "rolling headlines" on the bottom of the TV screen was born. I can not look at a news channel with scrolling news and not think of Sept. 11.
One of the finest moments in history came on September 14th atop a crushed firetruck. President Bush was addressing rescue workers and they complained that they could not hear him. Bush answered "Well, I can hear you. The whole world can hear you. And the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon." Standing next to Bush as those words were proclaimed was Bob Beckwith. Beckwith was a retired firefighter who was awake at that hour only because his grandson had been involved in a car accident. He went to the accident site and saw the only injury was a broken leg. He then started getting word of the first plane crash. He wanted to go to Ground Zero but his family convinced him it was a young mans job. When he got word that his best friends son was missing he went anyway and used street smarts to manuever the road blocks.
"All day he worked like a young man, shoveling rubble to dig out a firetruck. He was convinced there would be firefighters who had ducked underneath and might still be alive. There weren't.
In the afternoon, word spread that President Bush was about to visit the site. Beckwith couldn't see much, so he climbed on top of an excavated firetruck to get a better view. A balding guy in a suit joined him - Beckwith thought it was a Secret Service agent - and asked if the truck was sturdy. The stranger told him that a VIP wanted to stand there.
The stranger was Bush's senior political aide, Karl Rove, and the VIP was Bush. Moments later, Bush joined Beckwith, threw his arm around him and raised a bullhorn to deliver some of the most memorable words of his presidency: "Well, I can hear you. The whole world can hear you. And the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon."
Beckwith defines the heart of America. There are some good memories from 9/11. Beckwith being one of them.
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