We have this number stuck in our heads. Obviously, it represents the number of firefighters lost at the World Trade Center on 9/11 when our country- indeed, our Brothers- were attacked by terrorists from the Middle East.
We read 343 names.
We ring a bell 343 times.
We get a 343 sticker for our helmet or a bumper sticker or window decal that simply says 343.
T-shirts, tattoos, you name it- we solemnly pay tribute to the 343.
We’re Brothers. That’s what we do.
This week, I heard alot of "343", and "Never Forget." Yet, not once on this, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, did I hear a “Brother” give any attention to the number of FDNY Brothers and Sisters who have continued to die from the 9/11 attack.
What? There were more?
You know, the Brothers and Sisters who worked up to 16-hour shifts for weeks on “The Pile” breathing in a toxic cloud of plastic, jet fuel, and human body parts.
Any guesses at that number? My bet is that you have no clue.
Nope, it’s not 343.
Actually, it just eclipsed 343. That’s right- we’ve lost another 343+. And my bet is we’ll be losing another 343 soon as well.
We won’t be seeing their names carved on a granite wall, will we?
343. It’s a snapshot in time, but far from the reality of the number of firefighters lost from the attack at the WTC on 9/11.
Stay tuned, and I’ll continue this story and help you “Brothers” to understand why we should remember that 343 is just a number. And I'll tell you how to be a true Brother beyond just latching onto the hype of the number 343.