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A Firefighter's Farewell Journey

By: Ilyssa Trussel
By: Ilyssa Trussel

Tallahassee firefighter Michael Hadden is spending this fifth anniversary of 9/11 at home with his family.

Holding them tight, he's glued to the television coverage thinking of the fallen firefighters who lost their lives that fateful day.

"I don't know if courage is the right word, what these men took with them to go up into those floors to look for victims, to save others knowing good and well they probably weren't gonna make it back down. "

In the days after the attacks, Hadden was constantly thinking about what he could do to help.

"You wanna run up there and help, help dig, send canned food, blankets, money, write a check."

It was six weeks after two planes flew into the towers when he and about 40 other firefighters boarded a plane bound for New York.

At ground zero he saw firefighters still digging for victims. His journey though was meant to honor firefighters who perished, helping to give them a sendoff in the way he thought the brave men and women deserved.

"At the time there were two, three, four funerals a day and there weren't the numbers showing up for the funerals. At a typical firefighter funeral there are five to seven thousand people showing up. They were only getting a couple hundred."

Hadden says it was a journey that forever changed him, saluting heroes he never knew, but will now never forget.

"You really need to take a step back and realize what you have in life and you bring your family close to you and you hold onto them dearly knowing that we're not promised tomorrow."

Hadden was working in Orlando at the time and was able to go because the owner of the Orlando Magic lent them the team plane at the time.


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