Tom Fontana's Diary

1 October 2001

    One week after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I was honored to be asked to help write the live telethon, America: A Tribute To Heroes, which aired on all the broadcast networks, as well as HBO, Showtime and other cable entities.

    The producers wanted me to write about someone I knew, so I chose my friend, FDNY fire fighter, Tim Brown. The piece was delivered by Chris Rock. The producers also requested a segment about New York, which was ultimately not used.

    I include them both here, as a brief and, I’m afraid, inadequate testimony, to the many victims of the attacks and to the rescue workers, who have done such an amazing, if heart-breaking, job since September 11th. 


    Tim Brown is a firefighter who has never flinched when called to do dangerous jobs. But, on Tuesday September 11th, he began a job that not just tested his courage and his stamina, but the very core of his soul. You see, Tim started digging through the rubble of what once was the World Trade Center to find his friends, his fellow firefighters, his brave brothers buried beneath the avalanche of debris.

    For days and days, into night, in the sunshine, in the rain, Tim dug and dug and dug. With determination, with tears in his eyes, using all the skills in his possession, he dug. Even as hope ebbed, replaced by cold reality, he dug.

    Tim Brown is still out there digging because -- if he had been asked -- he would’ve given his life, too. Tim Brown is still digging because he knows those men now lost would’ve dug just as hard to set him free.

    Heroes do not give up. Tim Brown is a hero. 

The Spirit of New York

    The Spirit of New York lives. Walking around on Wednesday September 12th -- one day after the tragedy -- you could see the Spirit of New York bloodied but still soaring.

    You could see her Spirit in the courage of its rescue workers. In the generosity of its citizens, gladly giving water, food, clothing and their own blood.

    You could see her Spirit, in a child’s eyes, staring up at the smoke, rising in the distance. In the elderly veteran, telling all who’d listen that Pearl Harbor was less horrifying.

    You could see her Spirit in animated conversations at outdoor cafes, crowded with students and artists. In the candles at Union Square Park.

    You could see her Spirit in two lovers, talking quietly, touching intimately.

    The Spirit of New York is not steel or concrete or glass. The Spirit of New York lives in a people who know adversity firsthand, who can come together when need be and say, to those who will destroy us, "No chance, ya humps!"

    I have never been prouder to call myself a New Yorker. I hope, too, I am worthy of the name. 

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