Monday, December 9, 2013

The Game Warden Files--911, Part 3

My first duty was to transport a captain, a friend from our academy days, from the office to the command center at Ground Zero. When we got to the parking area, he wanted me to walk into Ground Zero for a look. I just couldn't do it. I'd worked there years ago and now the landscape was all rubble, smoke and dust. I gave him a couple of disposable cameras I'd purchased and told them to send me copies of the pictures when he got them developed. I busied myself in helping move equipment of the temporary command center near Ground Zero up to an expanded one, on a pier on the Hudson River.
Only a person who traveled the road in and out of Ground Zero can appreciate what came to be known as THE CHEERLEADERS. This was a crowd of men and women who applauded and cheered for everyone who went in or out of the the place. The traffic going in was stop and go, and every time you stopped someone would offer you a pair of gloves, a bottle of water, a sandwich. It was everyday people, just doing something they could for those who were responding. It was heartfelt from them, and it was touching to the responders.
On my final trip uptown to the new command center, I stopped at a traffic light. I don't know why I stopped, it was about 2 AM, no one was on the road except other marked emergency vehicles. Out of the pool of light beneath a streetlamp stepped a woman, holding something out toward me. I rolled the window down and she said "My kids baked cookies, would you like some?" Here she was, all alone in a nearly deserted part of the city, and she was doing what she could...and her kids doing the same. That was about the most emotional part of the trip. (To this day, I cannot tell the "cookie story" without getting a lump in my throat and misty eyes--writing it was no easier.)
I was released early from my week's duty as I'd had pre-approved vacation leave. I was going to Guatemala, and into other Latin American nations on a mission trip with Peace Officers for Christ. As part of our ministry, we spoke in a large church in which I was asked to give a few words of testimony. I talked about the warrior mentality, of running toward danger instead of away from it; and I told the story of the firefighter who ran toward danger and entered into eternity...and then I told of his wife's faith and her statement to me. There were ten thousand people in that church that morning, and another ten thousand when I told it again a couple hours later. Both times, the congregation erupted in cheers. That young hero's story was told also broadcast on Radio and TV throughout all of Central America.

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