'Regular Guys' Show Athletes What A Hero Is
MARTIN FENNELLY 
Published: Sep 16, 2001

Hero Takes On New Meaning.

What is a hero?We threw theword around before Tuesday. Everywhere you tuned in sports, there were heroes. Those
brave athletes. What a heroic run. What a fearless performance. There's no tomorrow. What a courageous chip over the
bunker by Tiger. All that is done

We have seen heroes all across the country this week, and not one of them is wearing an athletic uniform. What is a hero? It's people walking down an endless stairwell in a burning tower, carrying friends on their backs. It's a steelworker blowtorching a beam in two. It's a bucket brigade removing dirt. It's rescuers crawling into darkness in the hopes of answering a final prayer. It's people carrying supplies to armies without sleep. It's doctors and nurses fighting to save an arm. It's a soldier at the ready. And it's a man calling his wife from a doomed jetliner over Pennsylvania farmland, knowing what has happened, deciding it won't happen again. He and two other passengers were going to do something about it. Heroes.

In lower Manhattan, they arrived by the hundreds, on the heels of the fireballs at the World Trade Center. They jumped from red trucks and ran toward a fight they could not win. They slapped on oxygen masks and ran anyway, to save what lives they could. New Yorkers coming down the stairs hugged their heroes headed the other way. ``Them the big boys,'' Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. He remembered when he was a kid, how he wanted to be a fireman and point the hose and squirt the water. ``My job? I'm no hero. You're talking about people who give of themselves, who give of their lives. Them the big boys there.'' And now they are gone. 

Firefighters Hit Hard 
More than 350 New York City firefighters are missing and presumed dead at ground zero, an incomprehensible toll for a fraternity where use of the word ``brother'' doesn't seem strong enough. Most are entombed in thousands of tons of collapsed steel and concrete. They are under wire and Sheetrock and rebar, under office chairs, computer screens and elevator cars ... under bodies. They lie pulverized with other heroes, like police and emergency medical technicians, and with thousands they tried to save. Their brothers 
stand atop them, F.D.N.Y. stenciled on their coats, poking at an Everest of destruction, hoping for miracles. There are guys from scores of New York fire companies in the pile. One in every five firehouses lost someone. Some companies answering the alarms were wiped out, including four of the city's five elite rescue squads. 

Tuesday knew no rank. The chief of the department, Peter Ganci, the highest ranking uniformed member of the F.D.N.Y., died with the troops, as did Rev. Mychal Judge, a department chaplain killed by falling debris as he administered last rites to a firefighter who'd been struck by a ball of fire - a burning woman who'd thrown herself from one of the twin towers, her last choice in this life. We always know what sports heroes think. We know 
because the media ask them. We will never know what Tuesday's heroes thought as the buildings pancaked down. We only know they were doing their jobs. There are guys from 217 in there. 

All In The Family Dave Moore married into firefighting when he wed Ann Marie Leavy. Moore is from Morristown, N.J., west of the city. Ann Marie is from Staten Island, one of New York's five boroughs. Ann Marie's dad, Michael, is a retired firefighter. She has two brothers - Michael and Bob, who were firefighters. Her first cousin, Neil Leavy, works at 217. ``Ever see that movie `Backdraft'?'' Dave Moore asked. ``Well, that's my wife's family.

They're as loyal as they come.'' And now Neil Leavy is missing. He went into the towers with other guys from 217. These were guys Dave Moore knew. ``You're not going to find any better people,'' Moore said. ``I like to think of myself as a blue-collar guy, who plays hurt, who goes to work. That's these guys. They're America.'' They all knew the risks. Ann Marie's brothers found out. Michael fell through the floor of a burning building a few years ago.  He receives a medical pension. Bob got out after he lost some buddies in a fire. 
But you never leave the brotherhood. That's why even retired firefighters 
raced to the scene Tuesday. That's why those who couldn't make it in listened to their scanners and rooted for the guys as if it was a ballgame on the radio. When the buildings imploded, they heard the maydays, the cries for help, brothers running out of air ... guys turned their scanners off after a while. ``You can't begin to understand the tragedy up there,'' Dave Moore said. Ann Marie and brother Michael, who now lives in Florida, are going to New York to do what they can, console whom they find and weep for the dead. That might include Neil, who is just 33. Michael is tearing himself up. He was in Engine 217 before he went through the floor. When he left the department, Neil went to 217 in his place. ``It's a family,'' Dave Moore said. 

Brotherhood Grieves 
The funerals began Saturday. Chief Peter Ganci was laid to rest. Present was his son, Peter III, of Ladder Company 111 in Brooklyn. Buried, too, was Bill Feehan, the department's second -highest ranking official and, more important, the son of a firefighter and the father of a firefighter. In Tampa, with no football to play, Dave Moore thinks about Engine 217. He wonders if he will see all the guys again. He wonders if it will ever be the same. He wants to march with the F.D.N.Y. on St. Patrick's Day. This week, the athletes went away and still we had heroes. Imagine that. As you return to watching games - and all that courage - remember the brothers of 217, them and all the others who climbed into the sky even as the world crashed down. Them the big boys.

Hero...

There's a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don't have to be afraid
Of what you are
There's an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

It's a long road
When you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand
For you to hold
You can find love
If you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt
Will disappear

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don't let anyone
Tear them away
Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time
You'll find the way

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Sung By:  Mariah Carey
 
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Page created: September 12, 2001
Last updated: May 2014