Honoring Our Heros

Posted on September 11, 2011


New York Fire Department Museum

On this 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, it’s poignant to reflect upon how honoring our firefighters, police officers and military service personnel goes hand in hand with value based fathering and enjoying adventures together.  Over the years, I’ve tried to instill respect and appreciation for our heroes in my son’s heart and soul.

My first memory of doing so occurred when Alex was about 5.  Like most young boys, Alex was obsessed with firefighters.  Many a toy truck and fire fighting uniforms and equipment were part of play time.  His 5th birthday party in fact, included a trip to the local firehouse where we got to see the men in action taking off for a call.  It was thrilling for the boys and myself to see them spring into action.

Later that year, a young fireman lost his life while on a rescue.  The streets of Denver were lined with people as a long procession of fire fighting vehicles moved down the street close to our house.  Dressed in all his equipment, I’ll never forget him standing at attention and saluting as they passed by.

Over the years, we honored a fallen police officer and on one occasion, had the privilege of meeting and then paying for the meals of two young graduates from the Air Force Academy who were getting ready to be deployed.  We also had many opportunities to talk about the important role that these men and women play in our lives.

Following 9/11, I helped him and a friend bake and decorate a cake with blueberries and strawberries in the pattern of an American flag.  It was hard to hold back the tears as we took the cake and a thank you card over to that same firehouse and present it to our heroes.

On a professional level, I’ve had the unpleasant task of having to explain a variety of traumas to young, school children.  I’ll never forget 10 years ago this day, when a young first grade girl said: “Why would anyone want to kill firemen and policemen Mr. Knippenberg? They are heroes”.  How profoundly meaningful and touching was this comment from a sensitive 10 year old.

May this day of remembrance, give you the opportunity to reflect upon duty and honor with your children.  These are the fathers and mothers who would put their lives on the line for your children.

Post Script

Alex and I had planned on being at the summit of Longs Peak for sunrise this morning in honor of 9/11.  Unfortunately, a stomach bug forced us off the mountain at 3 am.  While driving back to Denver, I was treated to the comforting image of my sleeping son next to me.  May we all be thankful for those who allow our children to sleep in peace.


Posted in Reflections

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