September 11, 2002 - "Firefighters Remember 9-11"

We saw it over and over last September 11th. It's on billboards throughout our community. "They rush in while others rush out."

For some, that's a family tradition. A fire truck pulls up, and a team of firemen jump out and scurry to their assigned duties. It is a training exercise for recruits at the Baton Rouge Fire Department -- looking on is Sam Alsander, 14 years a firefighter. Sam has a son in this class, 20-year-old Don Thibodeaux. "I think he's going to be an excellent firefighter," says Sam. "Because firefighting is more like what can you give back to the community. It's not a self pride thing. It's not to build yourself up, but to help somebody else along the way."

For Don, being a firefighter is a longtime goal. He says, "Since I was about 13 -- yes, sir -- looking at my dad ride those trucks and my uncles. It just runs in the family." It runs in Jennifer Pickering's family, too. She's also in this class of 24. Jennifer's mom was the second woman ever hired by the Baton Rouge Fire Department.

"I'm in her shoes now," says Jennifer, "So that's good." Jennifer's dad has 25 years on the department. "When she came to me and made that decision to join the Fire Department, it made me very proud. The profession and the life blood of a firefighter -- they would sacrifice their own life for that of a civilian."

Like her mom, Jennifer will work in communications. She doesn't have to go through this training. She just wanted to. "I just wanted to see what it's like on the other side of the radio," she explains. "They work so hard, and, believe me, I appreciate their job much more now."

The tragedy of last year's terror is in the eyes of these four firefighters as they speak. Danny Pickering: "My prayers and my thoughts are still with the firefighters and all the people who lost their lives on 9/11."

Sam Alsander: "The first thing was a cold chill that went through me because that could happen right here in Baton Rouge."

Jennifer Pickering: "It really hit home that these guys would go out and risk their lives. They don't know if they're coming back or not, and it was hard."

Don Thibodeaux: "Those guys, they gave their lives for a good cause, trying to help. I give their families my condolences, and it makes me want to work even harder to try to be as good as those guys were."

Three-hundred-nineteen firemen died at the World Trade Center. Perhaps we can best mourn their loss by celebrating the dedication of people like these -- who fight what others fear.