Madigan Muses: Day of Heroes
by Marilyn Madigan
This September, we will remember a solemn anniversary in our nation’s history. It is hard to believe that twenty years ago our world changed forever, with the tragic events of September 11, 2001. All Americans alive on that day remember exactly where they were and what they were doing.
I was working in the operating room at University Hospitals when one of our nurses came in to inform us about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. We all were concerned but continued as professionals. Two of us in that room had family members living in the New York City area and were very concerned for their safety.
I was working with my favorite Surgeon, Dr Tom Stellato, whose daughter lived in Brooklyn. He finished his case and left the room with a very worried look on his face. The phone rang into the room, and it was his secretary.
I told the Circulating Nurse to go get him. His secretary was calling to tell him that his daughter was safe. All of us in that room were very relieved.
As soon as the case left the room, I attempted to call my cousin Casey, but the phone lines could not handle the volume of calls. Finally, that evening, Casey was able to email her family and friends to let us know that Jim and she were safe. What a relief.
Most of the Surgical Cases for the rest of the day were postponed, except for emergencies, in case blood and supplies were needed to be sent to New York. Sadly, most of the victims were fatalities and these items and personnel were not needed to help in NYC.
When I was able to go home that day, I remember the eerie silence of no planes flying over my home, which is about a mile from the Cleveland Airport. I was glued to the TV for the evening, watching the news coverage of this tragic day.
What made a lasting impression for me was how people were helping each other as then ran from the burning towers, the Pentagon and how those on Flight 93 fought to prevent further massive casualties by sacrificing their own lives. They were everyday heroes.
The heroes of that day were those of the New York area safety forces. New York’s bravest, the firefighters were running into the buildings and others were running out. 343 members of the New York Fire Department lost their lives in the service of others.
Fr. Mychal Judge, the Chaplain of the Fire Department, was the first listed death on this tragic day. Twenty-three of New York’s Finest of the Police Department and the Port Authority also lost their lives in the service of others on that awful day.
That November, I was in New York visiting my cousin for Thanksgiving. My cousin Rita and I went down to Ground Zero.
As soon as we arrived, we could smell and see the burning remains of the Towers. Everyone we passed was crying, and as you got closer to the site, the expressions of people went from sadness to anger. How dare this happen to us.
The tragic effects of that day are still with us. The families that lost their loved ones on the day; on the planes, Towers and Pentagon should continue to be in our prayers as they continue without these important people in their lives. We also need to pray for those who have mental, and physical health concerns from the aftermath of working at the site on that day and the many months. Many of these individuals have lost their lives over the past twenty years.
Many individuals have not been supporting our Police and Fire these past few years. These individuals need to look back at the events of September 11, 2001 and see the sacrifice that the finest and bravest and their families made that day. I believe that our country owes them and all that lost their lives on that day or because of effects of that day to always remember them as patriots.
*Marilyn Madigan is the National Vice President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and a Deputy Director of the United Irish Societies of Cleveland. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. John College and retired from Nursing at University Hospitals of Cleveland.