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SOMETHING SO GOOD
OUT OF SOMETHING SO BAD
Pig Bowl XXVII was dedicated to 9/11. New York Police Officer,
Sgt. Robert Ried, and a New York Firefighter Joe Mercurio, were
invited to be honored at the dedication. Joe instantly, became
our good friend. Joe and his son have attended every Pig Bowl
since and brought family members with them over the past three
years. He enjoyed the game, tailgate visiting and camaraderie
with his new friends, which keeps him coming back each year.
Each time Joe arrives, he brings bags of New York Fire t-shirts,
hats, pins and 9/11 keepsakes to share with all his friends and the
new friends he makes during the weekend. Joe has donated a
9/11 commemorative coin for our coin toss for the past four years.
This year he brought six New York Firefighter buddies to see how
much fun we all have at this event. Joe is a part of our extended
family and a part of Pig Bowl tradition.
Joe is the brother of a Sacramento County Sheriff deputy John
Mercurio. He is a Lieutenant for the New Rochelle Fire Department
in New York and has been for 18 years. On September 11,
2001, Joe started his shift at 0800 hours. At 0940 hours dispatched
to the Bronx for mutual aid. While in route they were ordered
to respond to the World Trade Center. His unit responded
to the first tower within 20 minutes of the first plane. His unit set
up the main command post and started rescue operations. He,
like so many NY firefighters, worked at Ground Zero for weeks.
As we look back on the tragedy of 9/11 to New York City and the
loss of life, it is so hard to imagine that that event even took place.
But we know it did! We all lived through it and watched the coverage
on TV each day, but somehow it doesn’t seem real. Think of
the job that so many of New York’s finest fire fighters and police
did and how they lived and worked each day for months.
When my family and I visited New York, we were fortunate enough
to see the city through this special New York firefighter’s eyes. As
we approached Ground Zero and listened to Joe explain this location,
what they were attempting to do, how they were all working,
and what the area looked like, my eyes filled with tears and I
had a lump in my throat and stomach. I could feel the fear, pain
and the overwhelming stress that these firefighters endured. Try
to imagine debris that goes all the way to the 20th story. I looked
at all the high rise buildings for blocks, trying to visualize no windows
left in any of them. And yet, as we walked through St Paul's
Church, next to Ground Zero, Joe showed us pictures and explained
that there wasn't a window missing in the whole church:
it is hard to explain how that could happen. The hardest thing we
did was visit the Fire Museum and the Police Museum. Looking
at the wall with pictures of all those brave faces of the men and
women who lost their lives on 9/11 was heartbreaking. Joe shared
pictures of Ground Zero that were taken by firefighters where the
media weren’t allowed. Words cannot describe those pictures.
After he shared the pictures with us, I looked at him and said that
I felt guilty about our families’ friendship. If 9/11 hadn’t happened,
he and his family would have never been a part of Pig Bowl (Guns
and Hoses) or our lives. How something so good came out of
something so bad!
Judy Venturi Mason