By Mike Papera
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

I think often about the events of September 11th as I’m sure most of us in the Fire Department do. I’ve been around this department a long time, 28 years, and you think you’ve seen it all or heard it all. Well, that all changed on that Tuesday morning a few months back. This department has lost many good people at fires and it’s always a very helpless, sad and sobering time for all of us. But then I think about those firefighters in New York. Parents lost sons, wives lost husbands and children lost their dads. So many guys aren’t ever comin’ home again. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to lose that many people, especially given the circumstances under which they were lost.

I look at that picture of those FDNY guys raising the American flag atop the Trade Center rubble pile, you all know the one I’m talkin’ about ... It was the cover of one of our Mainline publications and it’s often seen alongside another famous picture of the Marines hoisting our flag on Iwo Jima. I won’t be surprised if it becomes as recognized and legendary as that World War II photo. I ask myself what can I write that hasn’t already been written? What can I say that hasn’t been said? What can I do that hasn’t been done? Then it came to me ! “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This quote says it all for me. It’s what we do, it’s what we believe and it’s what we are as firefighters.

Now, this brings me to an interesting place. Do you know where that quotation came from? Was it Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King Jr.? It wasn’t any of these guys. Grab a Bible, go to the New Testament, and find John 15:13. Yep, it was Jesus Christ talking to his Disciples shortly before his crucifixion. Jesus knew what was comin’ and he says to his closest friends “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. His words were appropriate then, and for me even more meaningful now.

When I look at that picture now of those guys raising our flag I think about those 340-plus firefighters lost back there in New York. I bow my head and pray that God bring peace and comfort to so many family members and friends effected by the tragic loss of those firefighters. I know that he will. “No greater love...”


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