There is arguably no braver profession on Earth than that of a firefighter, with the vocation becoming perhaps even more meaningful when it is passed on through the generations.
On Tuesday, September 24, 301 probationary firefighters graduated from the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Academy; trained and ready to devote their lives to the service and safety of others.
Among these courageous graduates were 21 legacies, individuals whose firefighter parents selflessly gave their lives in service. This included a record number of those whose parents had died during September 11 or after suffering a 9/11 related illness.
As reported by Fox 5 New York, 19 graduates are children of first responders who died either on 9/11 or from a 9/11-related illness.
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, who presided over the ceremony, said:
Many of their fathers were killed on September 11th, several others died of World Trade Center illnesses, and others lost their lives in the course of their duty, bravely working to save and protect others,
Today, these 21 legacies are no longer children dreaming of their careers their fathers loved, and of serving in the world’s greatest fire department – today, they have fully achieved their dreams.
The graduating class was also notably diverse. People of colour made up 37 per cent of the graduate firefighters, which also had 16 female graduates; the second largest in the force’s history.
Amongst the legacy graduates were Marc and Rebecca Asaro, a brother and sister who are following in the footsteps of their heroic father, Carl Asaro. Mr Asaro was one of the 343 FDNY members who died during the attacks of September 11.
The Asaro siblings already have two brothers working in the fire service, firefighters Matthew and Carl Asaro, Jr.
Rebecca Asaro said:
Every day that I came to the academy, I was grateful to be there and to follow in the footsteps of my father, brothers, uncle, and all those who came before. This is exactly where I want to be.
It is an amazing experience, to be able to do the same thing that my father had done, and had given his life for. It’s more incredible that my sister and I are doing it together. It’s a proud feeling. My sister and I push each other to be better every day.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the events of September 11, 2001.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.