Frabjous Times

Memorial to a September 11th hero.

This afternoon the borough of Cresskill, NJ dedicated a new athletic field to the memory of firefighter and emergency services worker Sgt. John Coughlin who was killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center two years ago. He was one of those who was going up the stairs while urging the others to get out, and he left behind a wife and three daughters.
Much like the day of the disaster, the sky was clear and bright with a light breeze. While waiting for the dedication to begin, I saw a number of monarch butterflies go by, something I'd rarely seen before, as if on their way to winter grounds in Mexico. In addition to the friends and families of the youth football team, the parking lot was filled with the vehicles of the dignitaries and the spectators for the ceremony following the game, which the home team won (over that of my town, Dumont) by a score of 12-6.
Starting at one end of the field, the director of the athletic program led the program by introducing people who knew and grew up with the honoree, with representatives of the different service groups he was affiliated with, including his Fire and his Emergency Services companies up from the city of New York. About a half hour into this, just at the moment the Cresskill volunteer fire department was to take their place on the field to escort their visitors, however, a call went out over the radio and every single one had to go off to put out a fire, of all things. One of these was Patrick Basil, the worthy Grand Knight of our Knights of Columbus council, leaving the other three of us to represent the group in the ceremonial presentation of a plaque to a young girl, Grace Thomas, for her winning essay in a borough-wide contest. About a half hour later, Pat was back again, telling us "It was someone with a dryer fire, that's all." We told him that they should have seen to it that all fires be postponed for the time being. He complained that firefighting in his dress uniform on a summer day was a tough business, because the fabric sticks to one so.
After the prayers and speeches and the marching and the proclamations, the American Legion honor guard fired off a rifle salute, a bugler sounded taps, and we walked back up to the church to head back home.
Originally published: 2003/09/07 20:54:16