Gotta Keep Moving...But I Won't Forget

by Fredrick Cooper

I picked up the Tuesday edition of the USA TODAY, and it all came back. Seeing the flames come from way above, then another plane, flying low, destination: MORE DEATH. The fact that people leaping to their deaths saved other lives leaves me twisted. Can you actually call them heroes? Can you actually call those forebearers of doom, officials who deemed the South Tower safe after tragedy struck North, on the carpet of blame? You can't question their lack of judgment, IF THEY WERE ALIVE. They didn't know.

I am a fire marshal at my job. Been one for seven years. Red Cap adorned, I spearheaded thousands of fire drills, much to the chagrin of counsel trying to close that last deal, taking that last conference call. Lord Knows, I've interrupted plenty of them, and was the subject of much derision. Yet today I keep asking myself: if put in a situation to save lives during a catastrohic event, would I have been brave enough, or would I have panicked? It's different from the outside, as I remember myself, helping, aiding and consoling. Could I have endured 56, or 102 minutes of heat, smoke and fire to save lives like some who aren't here today?

Sixteen and one-half minutes to make a critical choice. Live or Die. That's what those in the South Tower above the 78th floor had to do. Lot's wife had a choice too, and she rolled "snake eyes", by way of pillar of salt. At least they had a choice. In Washington, In Rural Pa, on those planes. Christ, those planes...

Took my eight-year-old daughter to the movies on a Summer Saturday Evening in July, at Battery Park City. What was supposed to be pleasure for two turned in a somber, sullen thoughts as I showed her Ground Zero from a window. Maranda, after her tearshed, asked me if they had a chance. Daddy tried to tell her, "Yes, some did, but others..." As I turned my face away to conceal the agony ripping my heart in two, Seven Words came into my head, those I share, from a soul that cares: GOTTA KEEP MOVING...BUT I WON'T FORGET.

GOTTA KEEP MOVING...BUT I WON'T FORGET. How can I, when after carrying out a mentorship responsibility with Harlem Hospital, I converse with a fellow soldier, trying to make difference? This trooper, a retired firefighter, shared with me a story, the sole reason why he gives back. He and a fellow fireman both were six days from retirement when summoned to duty on that fateful day. His partner, a lifelong friend, was a little faster than he, and rushed into the building, leaving him behind. "Let's get some people, and get out," He says to my fellow mentor. As if weaving through watermelon explosions falling from the sky (BODIES) and metal from buildings and aircraft weren't enough, he said. Next thing he knows, the Tower falls. He barely made it across the street, and covered up in preparation for the afterlife. Today, he wonders if his friend had the opportunity to do so. He helps kids now, because his friend did. I hugged him last Friday. That's all I could do.

GOTTA KEEP MOVING...BUT, I WON'T FORGET: I have a childhood friend I see every now and then, and he gets on me for being too kind to him. I talk to him when there are no words to be said, sometimes driving him crazy. His bravery compels respect from me every time our paths cross. You see, My dawg, Frederick Curry, kissed his wife Beverly goodbye one Tuesday morning, the last time that day. He remember her calling him, saying she'll find a way out, then to say goodbye. I often wonder what it feels like when you know your about to die, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Some had the choice. Heat or leap. My dawg, is a brave man, and I love him for it. If he can keep moving, I can to.

GOTTA KEEP MOVING...BUT I WON'T FORGET: Gotta go to Oakland next week. I'm flying on September 12th. Things are safe now; as safe as they could be. But you think, if I knew it was going to be all over, have I done enough to make a difference? Has my heart and soul gone into every word I write, whether sugggestive, seductive or sensuous or somber, sullen or thought-provoking? Have a touched as many lives as I could, shared as much love as I have inside? Could I have given my life so that others could live, as the Pennsylvania causualties did? I feel its unfair that they're there and I'm here.

But deep down, DEEP DOWN, in their worlds, they urge us with my words. GOTTA KEEP MOVING... Because they are not here to share tomorrow, I GOTTA KEEP MOVING. Not for me, for them. BUT I WON'T FORGET.

Gotta Keep Moving...But I Won't Forget by Fredrick Cooper

© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

TimBookTu Logo

Return to the Table of Contents | Return to Main Page