I stopped in my tracks; removed my headphones; and stayed still until the bells fell silent. I thought about the ancestors. The Irish who could no longer bear the shame of foreign chains around their necks yet were utterly heartbroken to leave the motherland. The Irish who came to America and were greeted with signs that simply read NINA (No Irish Need Apply). The ancestors who took the only jobs open to them: civil service positions that were dirty and dangerous. In other words, they became firefighters and police officers–jobs that no one else wanted due to the abysmal pay and jagged conditions.
I looked at the names of some of the fallen firefighters of 9/11.
Above is a photo of 29-year-old Dana R. Hannon. As a boy, he wore his red plastic fire hat when he watched “Emergency” on TV. In July 2001, he became engaged. On September 11, he was last seen on the fifth floor of Tower One.
Certainly the ancestors were with him in that tower. Surrounding him, preparing him. And sweetly whispering “dul abhaile, dul abhaile.”
That’s Irish for “We are going home.”