On Tuesday September 11th 2001, I was running late for work at a TGI Fridays as a bartender. At the time I was 31 years old.
I was trying to rebuild my life after ending a caustic relationship with a woman, that I thought would be the one I would spend my life with. Though I did not know it at the time, it is fortunate that I did not. I had moved from the West Coast city to try and recover.
I was living in a Midwest city on Tuesday Septemeber 11th, 2001. I woke up late, called my boss to tell him that I was running late, He said “That’s okay, take your time…” I thought I was going to get fired. I was living with a cute College girl and her house had lost power sometime while we were asleep. She would usually drive me to work, but she wanted to sleep in, so she gave me her keys.
I remember that the freeway was oddly void of traffic, in the back of my mind I was curious, but since I was late I did not ponder too much and had not turn on the radio.
When I walked into the mall to go to work, it was quiet, barely anyone there. When I entered work, everyone was standing around watching the tv’s throughout. Somebody said that the WTC had been hit by a planes.
I was watching when the WTC towers fell and I remember that I was at a lost for words or thoughts, except the thought I “How many people just died?”. As the day wore on and more information came about, it felt surreal, like “Did this really happen, am I still asleep?”
When I heard the of all people lost, the one number that stuck in my mind was the 343 FDNY Firefighters lost when the WTC Towers came down. I kept thinking on the fact that they had lost their lives, while attempting rescue other people. How each one chose to go into those 2 buildings even though everyone else was trying get out. After that day, I starting volunteering for a various charities and donating money, but I felt that I needed to do something in life that would make a difference for others.
A few years later I found myself living in a Southeastern city, working as a; bartender, bouncer and mechanic, (the cute College girl got a job in europe as a reporter, so we went our seperate ways). I knew the city had a career fire department, but by chance I found out that it also had 21 volunteer fire departments in the county. I was then living with a beautiful Venezuelan woman I had met where I worked as a bouncer.
I went and applied, was accepted and attended 6 months (8 to 16 hours a week) at the Southside County Fire Academy, I graduated 2nd in my class and was sworn in as a Volunteer Firefighter, assigned to Engine 5/Rescue 5 (2 years later I was promoted to Sergeant after atending Engineer’s Academy). I finally had found what I wanted to do to make a difference. 4 years later I was hired and sworn in as a Career Firefighter, starting over again as a Probationary Firefighter, 2 years after that I was promoted to Sergeant.
Almost 9 years after Septmeber 11th, 2001 (Which I honor every year by attending ceremonies or memorials held here) I am a Sergeant at an Quad 5/Engine 2, I have finally found my calling, met a wonderful woman and have also kept striving to be a become a better Firefighter.
I owe this mostly in part to the sacrifice of 343 FDNY Firefighters, whom I never met. But they had left such an impression on me that at 33 years old, I chose start walking on a different path, I became a Firefighter. I do this so that I can make a difference in other’s lives and pay respects and honor to Three hundred & Forty-Three Firefighters who chose this path before me.
Thank you my brothers peace for you and yours.
Be careful & Be cool,
Sgt. FF/EMT Robert Christian
(I shortened this as best as i could, but there is actually quite a bit more to my journey on becomeing a Firefighter.