Five years ago thousands of Americans were killed in an arguably preventable act of terrorism. Stock brokers, secretaries, public servants and a variety of other people lost their lives as they tried to escape the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, fled the Pentagon and successfully stopped a further act of terrorism on airplane flying over Pennsylvania.
In New York City, as the civilian population rushed out in search of safety from the falling Towers, the New York Police and Fire Departments rushed in.
Paul John Gill was one of the members of the NYFD to have lost their life on that September day. Mr. Gill, born April 11, 1967, was 34 on that day. The same age to the day that I am on this September 11. His remains were never found.
I did not know Mr. Gill, nor did I know his family, but by all accounts, he was something of a live wire while growing up, but developed a strong sense of responsibility as he reached adulthood. In applying for the NYFD, Mr. Gill scored a 99 on the firefighters' exam and died doing what he wanted to do; helping people.
He was, along with the other fifteen members of Engine Company 54, working to rescue people from the Marriott Hotel attached to the WTC when the towers came down.
None of the members of the company survived.
While I did not know Mr. Gill, I know that it takes a special person to put his or her life on the line in order to run into a burning building in order to save the lives of others... and it's a whole other order of magnitude to run into a collapsing building. The world can use more people like Gill and the others that fell on September 11, 2001.
Mr. Gill, a talented artist, is survived by his parents, siblings, his wife Tina and two sons, Aaron and Joshua.
Special thanks to Kevin for helping me write this tribute.