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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Heroes: The 343 Firefighters that Died on 9/11

    I find arguing over the usage of the word ‘hero’ inane. Many people use the word in different circumstances. Some regard their own parents as heroes or they use it for people who really have influenced their lives. The usage of the word is subjective; however, it is often attributed to bravery and self-sacrifice. A firefighter does not wake up in the morning and say, ‘I’ll try hard to be a hero.’ Although the meaning might be subjective, I’m sure the lab assistant might have a hard time going to a family that lost a firefighter on 9-11 and disproving the use of the word hero for their own loss. What makes a person a hero is the quality of courage and whether they would stop and try to help when another is in trouble. Many of the firefighters on 9/11 left the comfortable setting of their own firehouse to address the situation of two skyscrapers collapsing. Many of these firefighters paid the ultimate sacrifice.

    I am sure, that if some equipment had fell in that research lab, sparking a fire, and this lab assistant had become trapped in the room with no escape, she would have a change of opinion. A firefighter would burst in, grabbing and running out with the assistant, and shielding her from the advancing flames, until they were both outside the building. The firefighter still covered with ash, would re-enter the burning building, to look for any other people that might be trapped. Bravery is another attribute of a hero. It is also what separates firefighters from many other people. Despite, the worst circumstances, they will try to save a life even if it means they may their own.

    Later that day, I was dozing off in my dorm in Langmuir. I was then abruptly startled by the ear-piercing scream of the fire alarm. I hastily locked my room and ran outside with everyone else living on my floor. Within 5 minutes, the sound became a cacophonous symphony, now accompanied by the siren of the approaching firefighter truck. Earlier that week, the Residential Advisors had told us that the firefighters who attended to the alarms that went off at Stony Brook were all volunteers. We watched as the firefighter quickly walked into the dorm building, and came back minutes later giving us the ‘okay’ to come back inside. Turns out the fire alarm was triggered by a malfunction in the system. We also had several more of those that night. I realized these individuals really take time from their busy schedules to help people who might be in peril. For these firefighters, the potential of tragedy occurring is always present, but they don’t know what to expect when they are called. At any moment their own life could be at risk, but they choose to risk it anyway so that they can save others. That is true selflessness. As we walked by that firefighter, I recognized that he would consciously save my own life, even if it meant he had to sacrifice his own.

    On September 11, 2001, we lost 343 firefighters. Every single one of these individuals was a hero. My whole life, I have believed that a hero is someone we admire for their values, particularly courage and self-sacrifice. Heroes are people who have impacted our lives by struggling. It is someone who serves as a role model for others, because of what they have accomplished by defeating the odds. Yes, it is actually expected that these firefighters should save lives, but only until we actually need their help, do we realize that we sometimes take their work for granted. Firefighters work 24/7, they respond to emergencies everywhere. They respond to alarms, fires, explosions, car accidents, and they train for future disasters. I am proud to call every firefighter a hero, because without them the world would very different today.

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