9/11/2001-9/11/2021: Twenty Years Later

Written by: Claire Williams, fellow fire wife, R-YFT and YogaFaith Ambassador

It’s a typical morning in the Williams’ household; my husband had just arrived home after a 24-hour shift as a firefighter. He greets me with a sweet hello and straight into, “Hey babe you’re gonna be mad…” He then proceeds to show me his ears. He looked like he had spent a few rounds in a boxing ring instead of fighting a fire the night before. I can giggle about this story now, knowing my 15-year veteran firefighter is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fighting fire. At the time though, he made a rookie mistake.

The duplex fire was in the roll over phase getting ready to transition into a flashover and it was HOT. He entered the fire without his helmet flaps down protecting his ears resulting in a nasty burn just from the heat itself radiating off the fire. Was I mad? Sure. Thankful? Yes. I adore our after-shift hugs, especially after a fire. He always smells like a campfire; the smell of the smoke lingering in his clothes and hair. I am so grateful for my husband and that hug. There are so many fire wives out there that never got that chance again. They never got to hug their husband one last time and smell the scent of smoke.

We all remember September 11, 2001. A day forever etched in our hearts. So many innocent lives lost. A select group of spouses will always remember the day after, September 12, 2001. The day their spouse didn’t return home from their shift. On September 11, 2001, when so many were fleeing the towers, there were hundreds of men and women that ran towards the danger, into the chaos and destruction.

This is what a true hero is. A hero is defined as a person who is admired for having courage. I smile at the thought of our Heavenly Father welcoming these heroes into His Heavenly Kingdom. Let’s break the word HERO down from a heavenly perspective.

El Roi (The God who sees me)

Image by: Robert Harkness

On September 11th pure evil crashed into both towers at the World Trade Center. There were many lives lost that day. Through these earthly heroes came forth stories of nothing but absolute heavenly strength, blasting through the evil that was present there that day. I love to imagine a firefighters turnout gear as their Ephesians 6 Battle Armor- and on that day it was.

343 FDNY firefighters lost their lives in the September 11th attacks. There are numerous stories of heroism from that day. One of them being the story of beloved FDNY chaplain, Father Mychal Judge. He was known to always be present on mass casualty calls, and it is said he is the only example of religion a lot of firefighters ever had. When he arrived, he fervently prayed over the dead and dying, then entered the lobby of the North Tower.

 Inside the lobby, pure chaos was all around. During my research about Father Judge one thing reigned true; he was deeply loved by his brothers and sisters in the fire department. A reporter witnessed Father Judge praying aloud asking Jesus to end this and make it all stop. The South Tower fell, casting debris into the lobby of the North Tower. The debris hit Father Judge in the head and killed him instantly. His body was tenderly removed from the lobby by those that cared so deeply about him. He is considered the first victim in the 9/11 attacks. 

 For months after the attacks, survivors and other first responders sifted through the rubble. They spent countless hours looking for any signs of life. Twenty years later, many of these men and women have serious medical issues resulting from time spent at Ground Zero. According to the World Trade Center Health Program, many first responders enrolled suffer from GERD, cancer, sleep apnea, PTSD, anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder. According to their data the top five cancers in enrolled first responders are non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate, breast (females), lymphoma, and thyroid cancer. 

The hearts of Americans are forever grateful for the bravery shown that day, and the continued bravery from the countless survivors now battling medical issues directly linked to their time at Ground Zero. 

YogaFaith would like to take the time to recognize and remember the 2,977 lives lost that day and offer continued prayers of healing for those battling lasting medical conditions. 343 FDNY firefighters lost their lives that day. To all the spouses out there that forever hold the memory of their loved one near- from one fire spouse to the next- you are seen, heard, and understood. 

A Fire Wife's Prayer for Fallen FDNY Spouses

May El Roi (God who sees you) meet you right where you are, right now.
Our Almighty Father who is in Heaven, blessed is your Name.

Thank you for your many blessings, Lord, especially for the brave men and women who served so valiantly on September 11, 2001. They left behind a lasting legacy of what it means to be a hero.

Heavenly Father, they also left behind their own personal hero.
To be a firefighter spouse takes courage, and a surrendered heart.
To be a spouse of the fallen 343 FDNY firefighters takes a special courage I don’t personally know.

Lord be with the spouses in the sweet, silent memories of their beloved firefighter.
Lord shine your Heavenly Love on their aching hearts and grief.

Lord may their memory carry on each day in the heart of the American people.
Lord, bless each and every spouse of the 343 fallen FDNY firefighters.
Lord, meet each spouse directly where they are, and may they feel safe to lay any heavy burdens at your feet.

May their steadfast courage shine as valiantly as their spouse’s.
Thank you, Lord, for the heroism shown that day, twenty years ago.
Thank you, Lord, for being our…

El Roi (the God who sees us), our
Redeemer, and thank you for being
Omnipresent, even on the days we struggle to see, hear, feel and your presence.
In your name we pray…. Amen, Amen, Amen!

...You will grieve, but your grief will turn into joy. John 16:20

September 11, 2001. We will never forget.

Please set a reminder to join Claire in a special remembrance video that premiers 9/11 8am PST.

9/11 8am PST Premiere

About the Author

Claire Williams is a 200-hour Registered YogaFaith Trainer (R-YFT), a proud fire wife, boy mom and founder of Clarity Yoga. She has a passion for trauma sensitive, gentle, and adaptive yoga and cares greatly for the first responder and military veteran community on and off the yoga mat. Claire loves the outdoors, her terrier Pearl, and the colors of sunset.

John 1:5 - The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me