Made of Gray

Spetember 11, 2011

Holly D Gray2 Comments
I know that September 11th has past and most everyone is moving on with their day to day without thinking about the events too often. I wanted to go ahead and do a post on Caleigh's Daddy and his honoring of the 10th anniversary.
On September 11, 2001, Eric and I hadn't even been married a year. He was a firefighter in the Navy and we lived in Jacksonville Florida at the time. That morning I woke up and got ready for work. Eric had left much earlier that morning because he was set to be gone on a two week deployment. They often went out for 2 day, 3 weeks and the such so this was typical Navy stuff for us. Eric forgot his boots that morning and as soon as I walked into work he called me and asked if I would bring them out to the ship. I left work, went to our apartment, made it to the base, met him at the ship and gave him one last kiss goodbye before they took off. By this time I had the radio on and heard the news of the first tower being hit by an airplane. When I went back into work, I couldn't do anything but listen to the radio and wait. I remember trying to call Eric a few times and not getting a response. I was terrified. Caleigh's Grammie was visiting and I remember calling her too. I later learned that Eric's ship made an immediate deployment as soon as the news came in. I would later find out, for security reasons, that for 2 months after that day Eric's ship sat on the coast of Washington D.C. I remember the total encompassing fear of going to war. I remember the sadness and emotions like they were yesterday.

A few years later when Eric left the Navy and became a civilian firefighter the meaning of September 11th took a different turn. Where we once connected to the event by those military personnel involved and sent to war; we now added the relation to those firefighter's lost on that day. Losing Eric on duty is one of my biggest fears with his job. Most days it's easy to tuck away, but anytime I think about September 11th I can't help but think of the families involved and what a devastating loss it was for them.

This year was the Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb's inaugural year. Eric jumped at the chance to train and participate. The registration was only open to 343 firefighters signifying the number of firefighters lost on 9/11. Eric made it in and started training and raising money for the cause.

On September 11th this year, Eric, Caleigh and myself packed up and headed to Dallas. Eric described the scene of that morning as awesome and sobering. To see 343 firefighters standing around with their families, waiting to climb the stairs, was a realization as to how many firefighters actually died that day. It's heartbreaking.

There were bagpipes and drums playing. They had announcements and alarms when each plane hit and towers fell. Moments of silence interrupted with kids playing around us waiting on their Daddies.

Eric climbed 110 floors in about an hour and four minutes. Signifying that each tower had 110 floors. This is about 212 flights of stairs.

When Eric was done we all met on the 53rd floor for photos and rest. The room was overwhelmed with large men in bunker gear, sweat dripping everywhere and the smell of smoke off of their gear. Not one said that the climb was easy and not one made it seem like a piece of cake. It was tough both physically and emotionally.

Caleigh was smiling ear to ear when she saw her Daddy. We left our house at 6am that morning and didn't make it home until noon. She was an angel the entire time.

We are proud of Eric for honoring his brothers that day. There are risks with his career choice, but honestly we can't picture him doing anything else. It's his calling and he can honestly say he loves his job.
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