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My father, Thomas J. McCann, was a New York City Firefighter since 1979. On the morning of September 11, 2001, my worst nightmare became a reality. As I was walking to lunch fourth period, one of my friends came over and told me the World Trade Center (WTC) had collapsed. I was shocked. The girl sitting next to me was crying. She was telling us how her father worked in the WTC and she couldn't get in touch with him. My heart broke for her; I couldn't imagine such a thing.
I began to get a little nervous because my father worked for the FDNY in midtown Manhattan. However, my father also worked a second job setting up shows in Manhattan and also loved to play golf between his work tours. Today, I was unsure of his whereabouts, except for the fact that he was not working at the firehouse. I knew he was scheduled to be setting up for the Michael Jackson show in the evening. I called my mom from the cafeteria and she told me she hadn't spoken to Daddy yet, but not to worry because he was not at the firehouse today. Throughout the day my teachers would ask if we knew anyone who worked in the city who may be affected by this. I didn't raise my hand because I knew my father was safe (or so I thought). When I arrived home that day, my 13-year old brother, Sean, was crying and screaming, "Daddy is at the World Trade Center!" He did have to work at the firehouse because someone had called out sick. My mother pulled into the driveway and from that moment on we waited. On September 12, 2001 my father was reported missing...and to this day, although we are not able to have proof of how, or when, or why this happened to him, we know he was doing his job above and beyond the call of duty.
On September 11, 2001, shortly before 9 a.m. my father ran to the South Tower of the World Trade Center while it was burning and debris was falling all around him. My father was risking his life to save others as thousands were running away. There is no doubt in my mind that he did not even think twice before doing so. My father risked his life for others every day and for his bravery he received the Medal of Valor and numerous other awards posthumously. Compassion for others and loyalty to his profession were the values that sent my father into the South Tower.
My father had a heart of gold and dedication to his family, friends and career were always evident. He always made people laugh and appreciate life, because my father knew how important living life to the fullest was. He wouldn’t waste his time being upset or angry; life was too short... and we were too precious.
Thomas McCann was not only a hero to the lives he saved, but to the whole country. I think all of the rescue workers gave a wake-up call to the U.S. to celebrate our freedom and stand united. I have never seen this country as united and the letters and support I have received from people all over the world is very heartwarming and comforting. It is amazing to see that his heroism was appreciated by so many. No one could be more proud than I am of my father! No one could miss him more.

by Courtney Erin McCann

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