It is that most solemn of American days. Though, over time, the rawness will fade, it’s safe to say that most people still feel tinglings of the kick in the gut endured that morning.
The fire service as a whole has been quick to honor the 343 FDNY members killed on 9/11. There are countless stickers, tee shirts, and plaques in fire stations across the country with that number. I have seen some departments christen apparatus with 343 as a unit number. We are all forgetting Keith Roma. Roma was a fire patrolman with the New York Fire Patrol, the private fire department that operated alongside the FDNY for 203 years before being disbanded in 2006. Every year I feel for the family of Keith Roma, both those bound by blood and those linked by a life in the fire service, as they are continually unintentionally told that brother Roma didn’t count. This is an ongoing injustice that the national fire service, in its bid to outdo every other segment of society in memorializing 9/11, has been more than complicit in.
It’s true that he was not a member of the FDNY. But he was a fireman (and an IAFF member, if that means anything to you) and he died at the towers with his bunkers on.