by Patria Baradi Pacis
Every September 11th morning, for the past 18 years, I call my friend, Mary to hear our co- worker’s name Robert Thomas Linnane read out aloud on television during the 9/11 Memorial Service. Mary, Bob and I worked together at LaGuardia Airport’s Delta ticket counter. We had a lot of fun. Bob loved life and travelled extensively. We didn’t know that Bob had another love. He wanted to be a firefighter all his life. He didn’t tell us that he took the firefighter entrance exam and passed it. During his eighth year with Delta, Bob resigned. Mary and I felt sad.
Months later, Bob came back to visit us dressed in his full uniform. He was so happy and proud to finally get his dream job, a New York City firefighter. He worked for the FDNY 2 years, at Engine 219/ L-105 Brooklyn and Ladder-20 in NYC. Mary and I were happy for him. Then 9/11/01 happened. Days later, we found out that he was one of the 343 firemen and other first responders that bravely ran into the World Trade Center towers to save people who were trapped in their offices. Bob never got out. We never saw Bob again.
Ten years later, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a permanent monument, spearheaded by retired New York City Firefighter and Montauk volunteer Dennis O’Reilly with the help of others, was erected and unveiled at the Montauk Fire Department grounds nearby. A piece of steel found on Ground Zero and later cut by artist Carl Scheetz, in the shape of a Maltese Cross, a symbol of protection and badge of honor, is on display between two granite pillars resembling the silhouette of the Twin Towers with the names of the fallen 343 firefighters listed on bronze plaques. To this day, I have yet to return to visit the new Freedom Tower and the beautiful two huge fountains built where the towers once stood. Maybe someday I will have the courage, but for now, I am glad to be able to pay my respect to my friend, Bob, in Montauk.
Each year, Mary and I, now retired, make sure that Bob is honored with the rest of the first responders including police officers and emergency service workers who sacrificed their lives to save others. We also remember the thousands who died and pray for the hurting families they left behind and for the children who never knew their mom or dad. Bob was at the prime of his life. He was only 33 years old. Thank you Bob for being so brave and for saving many lives. We miss you and your million dollar smile. You will always live in our hearts. We will never forget!