Because of Gary Geidel, I couldn’t forget, even if I wanted to
The following is a post as part of Project 2996, in which I originally participated several years ago. I have decided to post it for the fifth year in a row because doing so underscores how much I think it is important that we don’t forget there are faces, there are stories, there are left-behind loved ones to every name of every victim that was taken from us on that fateful day 12 years ago.
I’ve tweaked it a bit, after having received a book three years ago called “REQUIEM: Images of Ground Zero” in the mail from Gary’s sister, Christine, who read my 2009 blog post. (Christine, if you ever read this, thank you sooooo much for sending it to me…it had gone to an old address of mine, but it ended up getting to me a bit later!!!)
In the decade plus two years that have passed, so much has happened in this country. And to each one of us on a personal level. We should always keep in mind every day how very fragile life is. I would appreciate if all of you to read below and think for a moment about the man whose name I was given in the original project efforts, and the 2,995 others whose names are just as important, including those on United Flight 93 that went down by Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, near my husband’s hometown of Latrobe.
Twelve years ago today, the nation was rocked to its core. At the hands of hateful cowards. At the cost of nearly 3,000 hearts, minds and bodies. 4,380 days have passed, and so easy it is for many of us to move on. To focus on the patriotic spirit that rose out of that grim, ill-fated September day… to harness our own hatred in the name of the U.S. of A. and aim it at the sources of evil. Or to just put in our crosshairs people in our own country who have different beliefs or different colored skin or different political views. To literally FORGET what it really means to be an American.
But it has not been easy for those who were left in the wake of the tragedy, left to deal with a senseless loss of someone they loved, someone who loved them. Time might heal, but healing is hard to do when the loss always feels like it just took place yesterday. And time doesn’t bring back any one’s father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife or best friend.
As part of Project 2996
, I would like to shine a light on one man of whom, until Sept 10 of 2009, I had never heard…but now after reading about him and hearing the memorie
s of those he left behind, I understand how important it is that he is remembered. That he is honored. Now, 12 years later, and every year thereafter.
His name is Gary P. Geidel
, and he was a fireman for New York City Fire Department. He was one of 10 in his company who died in th
e aftermath of the terrorist attacks. He was 44.
Firefighting was in his blood. His father had walked before him; one of his brothers walked beside. All three Geidels shared a rescue company, Rescue Co. 1, which dates back to 1915 as the first rescue company to be established in the United States. Unfortunately, Gary was no stranger to responding to terror attacks; when the Twin Towers were bombed in 1993, Gary and his company were there, eager to save lives and help others.
His retirement from public service was a mere 20 days away when the calendar turned to September 11 in 2001. He awoke that morning, ruefully told his wife of almost 11 years that he put in for overtime and headed to the firehouse. But not before returning to give the love of his life another kiss and hug.
Their last kiss and hug.
Gary was a 6 ft. 2 romantic, avid birdwatcher, Eagle Boy Scout, former Marine and a member of a neighborhood softball and football team. He could fix parachutes, sew costumes, whittle gifts for loved ones and make toys for his daughter, Tillie. (At one point in the years since I’ve been doing this, Tillie contacted me through blog comments and on Facebook, and each time it warmed my heart that she has been touched by this small shout-out to the noble acts of her dad. Tillie, thank you for reaching out. And best wishes to you and your family!!)
Even if it’s just through memories, I’m glad I’ve come to know about Gary P. Geidel, who some called “Mule Bone.”
Many called him a friend.
Three called him a son.
Three called him a brother.
Some called him an uncle.
One called him a husband, a best friend, a soul mate.
One called him Dad.
And I know am not alone when I call him a hero.
Please remember Sept 11, 2001. And please remember Gary P. Geidel.
(B&W photo originally posted by jessica_foley62; other photos from Gary’s sites.)