In 1995 when I moved to East Haven I left behind my family, friends and people I hung around. I started a new life 76 miles north. I had a bright future, the generation X kids as we were known were just getting our feet on the ground and establishing what we would do in our future. As time would have it more of those friends were married like I was and started their families. One of those men and women was my friends Mike and Elaine.
Mike was a charismatic type of person. Always full of life and lots of fun. Although he was fun he was probably one of the hardest working persons I knew. He worked at a deli, ran a hotdog stand and had a part time job doing engineering work. Doing all of these things while he attending Manhattan College. There was an old joke amongst us. We used to call him the White Jamaican because of all the jobs he held. (After the TV Show "In Living Color"). We would laugh and kid around but there was something I never knew he had an affixing for and that was firefighting. I always thought he was going to be an engineer. I remember one time when we were hanging out down at the Hudson River we looked up at the Henry Hudson Bridge and I said, "Mike how the hell do they secure the pilings into the floor of the river?" He said, "How the hell do I know" with a laugh. He knew though and began to tell me stuff about building bridges and I swear I never knew what he said but I knew he was one of the smartest people I knew.
Those days long past, he was married to his high school sweetheart Elaine and it wasn't until he landed an part time engineering job in Norwalk that we reconnected. We must have spoken for at least an hour on the phone and he asked me what I did in my spare time. I told him I joined the local Volunteer Fire Company. He was thrilled. Although he was a FDNY member, they are not allowed to join Volunteer Companies. He told me he belongs to the Hawthorne Volunteer company but to keep it quiet. We said we needed to get together and have lunch and to go over the old times. I was looking forward to it. But as it goes you don't realize the time and you always say in time we will get together and 6 months had passed by. Then that day, 9-11-01 came and he was gone. He was working on Squad 41 that day and was killed at the World Trade Center.
Mike left behind a beautiful wife, daughter and a baby on the way. He was murdered by Osama Bin Laden and his gang of terrorists.Although we weren't best friends we were close as all of my childhood friends were. His death left a lasting impact on my life and I will never forget his humor, kindness and determination. Instead of celebration for the death of Osama Bin Laden I'd rather see a reflection of all those who were lost in the war on terror.
Knowing how Mike was, never seeing him get angry, never being vengeful I can see him saying. "It's cool bro, we got him let's move on."
From the East Haven Vine. May God Bless our Troops, Firefighters, Police, EMS and all that serve to protect us and keep us safe.
9-11-01 "We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail." President George W. Bush.