Thirteen years ago today, I was 12 years old, attending my first week of school in junior high and relatively nervous about the entire endeavor. You see, I used to have a serious anxiety problem and new things were comparable to torture.
So here I am, anxious from my surroundings in an awkward stage of life. Our second bell of the day rings out and we finally get to the end of our first block. I exit the classroom and make my way toward my locker and notice there seems to be more excitement than normal in the halls. People are beginning to learn of the events unfolding in New York City, the events that would shape my life in a way I could never have known.
One of my friends, several years older than I was at the time, walked past me and blurted out, “Well, I guess World War III just started.” I stopped and thought to myself momentarily and then realized I needed to see for myself what was happening. I noticed many older students and faculty members gathered around the entrance to a room I had never been in before. I pushed my way through until I could see the television screen centered in the room. Surrounded by friends, classmates, and faculty, I watched as members of the FDNY, the bravest men I have ever witnessed, head into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center without hesitation and ultimately, to their final resting place.
Fast forward to 2014. I am now 25, having spent the last 10 years working on becoming a firefighter/paramedic and working to make myself the best, strongest version of myself I can become. The 343 FDNY members who died that day showed the greatest courage and they are the reason I am what I am today.
I work three part-time jobs as a first responder and constantly train to become better at what I do and to prepare myself for my future, which I intend to spend in the United States Air Force. In the last 10 years, I was exposed to some great organizations and leaders. One organization that’s stood out to me more than others is Team Rubicon.
Team Rubicon has given me one more outlet to help people in need and volunteer myself. It’s also been a huge factor in my decision to serve my country in the USAF. Volunteering alongside veterans has given me the greatest sense of pride I’ve ever felt since realizing my dream of becoming a firefighter.