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Arundel Fire Department Heros Remember 9/11

Local firefighters feelings vary from fear, anger and hope.

Like many Americans, emotions from the events of September 11 are diverse among the fire fighters at the Arundel Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD).

Chuck Gross of the AVFD remembers fearing for his brother, an American Airlines pilot.

“My brother was waiting to take off from Newark airport that morning and witnessed the attack on the towers from his position on the runway.  It was frightening for us because one of the planes taken over by the terrorists had taken off from Newark airport and we didn't know for several hours that it wasn't his airplane.” 

Gross said he watched the remembrances on TV earlier this month and felt grateful for all the people in all the security agencies who have prevented another attack.

It was so sad to re-live that awful day and to know how much those families are still suffering," he said.

Duane McKee spoke of the anniversary, “I was exactly in the same place as I was 10 years ago, serving my community and proudly doing it from the AVFD. That date is a staple in time that nobody can, will, or could ever forget. That day was a tragedy. Not only was it an attack on this great nation, but it was an attack on every person around the world. It was a moment in time that the world actually stopped and was overcome with a sense of venerability, loss, and tragedy. I am proud to be a firefighter and an American, more so now than ever before,” he said.

The days following the attacks were bitter sweet for one firefighter. Blaine Slacum spent those days not at the fire house but in the labor and delivery unit at a local hospital. 

“Days later while sitting at hospital I watched as they continued to report about the attacks. It was then I realized that my twin daughters were not just a blessing to me, but to the world. In a time of grief for so many people it was also a time to celebrate life. Not one but two, Summer and Grace, made it a little easier to cope with the loss of so many,” Slacum said.

He also described his feelings, “I knew I had to do something for me, my daughters and for others. Shortly after that I became a member of the AVFD; I wanted to help like so many others did!"

Planning on spending the day at the fire house, Matt Briggs was checking email and watching the end of an “I Love Lucy” television episode when his cell phone rang. 

“I was about to leave and head up to the firehouse, and it was my roommate. I distinctly remember even before I could get out the word hello, he said 'what the hell is going on?'" Briggs said.

He goes onto explain that his roommate was driving an 18 wheeler on an interstate somewhere between western Maryland the Pennsylvania line.

"I didn’t know what he was talking about. He said 'something happened in New York; turn on the news,'" Briggs said.

He then relayed the information to his roommate.

“Within a few minutes I turned off the news, got my stuff together and headed up to the firehouse. Sometime in the 3.2 miles from my house to the firehouse, the second tower got hit,” said the life member of the AVFD.

Briggs goes on to add that, “I walked into the station and into the tv room and saw the stunned looks on peoples faces. The second tower had been hit and it also had smoke billowing out. It was clear that this was no accident!”

“I know my life changed forever that day, as did the lives of all of us. The sadness, the hurt, the anger, and for some reason even some guilt,” he said.  He continued explaining “I came to learn of a relative that perished in New York that day. My mothers' cousin, Lt. Daniel O'Callaghan. He was the Officer on Ladder 4, in Mid-town. He was 42.”

Briggs concludes, “ten year later, many of the feelings remain. Especially the anger.”

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