It is said that you can take a boy out of the Bronx but not the Bronx out of the boy. There’s no finer New Yorker than this week’s Our Dad’s Flag ambassador and New York Fire Department Chief, Jim McGlynn — a grand prize of ‘da Bronx.’ In any pocket of the boroughs — Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island — he along with his fellow members of the F.D.N.Y. are the bravest by far. Not only was this visit an honor but more importantly an incredible tribute to the many souls and survivors of the deplorable attacks of September 11, 2001. Our Dad serving in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and our entire family are honored that Chief McGlynn wore Our Dad’s Flag as he ran the 2012 Tunnel to Towers Run – an incredible run for an important memory.
By Hook or By Ladder
The Tunnel to Towers Run is an annual fundraising road race in memory of F.D.N.Y. firefighter Stephen Siller. Off duty from Squad 1, on 9/11/2001 Siller responded without hesitation when he got word of the attack on the World Trade Center. It is said that when the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel was closed to traffic . . . nothing would stop him. Siller suited up with over 60 pounds of gear and ran from Brooklyn through the tunnel toward the World Trade Center in Manhattan — where he then made his most ultimate sacrifice. His 5K trek has since been memorialized through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation in a run that follows his footsteps and draws thousands
upon thousands of participants including surviving firefighters, families, members of the Armed Forces and friends and strangers alike who all run in his memory and raise funds for families of firefighters, wounded warriors of our U.S. Armed Forces and so many other worthy causes. The run now takes place nationally as well as internationally! It is very fitting that their motto is, “Let Us Do Good.” And to date, they do just that and then some.
For the past few years there’s been an informal ‘team’ of friends of Chief Jim McGlynn who take part in the Tunnel to Towers run via hard work and endurance (– or those others who greet them at the finish line for some good old fashioned fun & friendship in nearby establishments of downtown NYC!) They are lovingly known as “Team McGlynn” representing The Bronx, Shore and Beyond… all in support of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and in friendship of Jim McGlynn, a 9/11 first responder, a survivor of that day with an incredible tale, and simply put — a decent human being.
All Gave Some, Some Gave All
The stories of the attacks of 9/11 are so engrained in most adult lives that they need not be retold. Nearly 3,000 people died that day. The terroristic obliteration of the two famed towers in New York caused 343 firefighters to perish that day. This, the darkest of days, was the one where all gave some and some gave all.
When the Walls Come Crumbling Down
On September 11, 2001, then Lieutenant McGlynn, was one of the first responders at the World Trade Center coming from Engine 39 and Ladder 16 from Midtown Manhattan. To sum up his ultimate experience that day, we’ll pull from reporter Thomas Zambito’s NY Daily News Article They Returned for a Brother, 11/5/01:
But by the time McGlynn got to the third floor, the groaning sound of twisting metal filled the air. The building shook. A whoosh of air shot up through the stairwell. The north tower was coming down. McGlynn, a no-nonsense 15-year veteran from Yonkers, listened as each floor dropped onto the other, the thuds spaced closer and closer together as the collapse gained speed. A specialist in high-rise fires, McGlynn knew exactly what he was hearing. “They call it impact load,” McGlynn said. “As each floor drops, it picks up speed. You knew that nothing was going to stop this.”
A Lucky Pocket
Our Dad’s six-year-old son constantly fills his right-hand pocket of his pants with “treasure.” These are little knick-knacks he finds: bottle caps, beads, rocks, etc… that he thinks of as treasure (read: junk!) He tucks them away into this special pocket and keeps them safe until he returns home. He then fishes deep into the lucky pocket and says with genuine glory and pride, “Look!” It’s amazing how important such a little space can mean so much to him. His pocket keeps things safe so he can bring them home and show off his new found happiness.
On 9/11/01, Jim McGlynn and a few others, inexplicably found their own lucky pockets. These firefighters were in Stairway B of the North Tower. A mixed bag of folks from engines, squads and ladders — all looking to find a fellow firefighter, help a civilian or they were simply just working their way out. Shortly after the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, the North Tower followed suit — right on top of Jim McGlynn and company in their respective parts of Stairway B. For whatever reason – be it by design or by the divine – the intervention preserved these folks in pockets of the stairwell encased by tons of rubble. It took hours, but they were fished out of their respective, and lucky, pockets in what later became known as the “pile” – the ruins of the World Trade Center.
It’s amazing how important such a little space meant so much. The treasure of these pockets kept them safe so they could all just simply — go home. A treasure beyond worldly riches.
So, What’s in Your Pocket?
Our advice? Get rid of the bad junk that’s been taking up space and refill it with true treasure! Our Dad is in the homestretch of his deployment and so incredibly humbled by Chief McGlynn’s participation in this family project in patriotism that his BDU pockets are full-up of frienship and pride! He’s over in Afghanistan where at many bases you can have a U.S. flag flown in memorial. In this tradition, some bases fly the flag for exactly 9 minutes and 11 seconds… we think you know why. It’s a tribute. A reminder of why our Armed Forces are “over there.” More importantly the message: Never forget. God Bless America and thank you for following Our Dad’s Flag.
Our thanks to Jim, Kathleen Walter & T.E. McLaughlin for photos and friendship and continued support of Our Dad’s Flag. For more on the below-the-radar tales of that fateful day read, REPORT FROM GROUND ZERO, The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center by Dennis Smith.