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Kurt Vonnegut's Remarks

In the entire history of the Fire Department of the City of New York, I have been told, about seven hundred firefighters have lost their lives in the line of duty. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. So says the Bible. After the calamity of September eleventh, the New York Post asked me for a comment. And I said, "I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire truck."

I myself had my life and our house at 228 East 48th Street saved by our local firefighters two years ago. Engine Company 8, Ladder Company 2, Battalion 8. Whether some who did that for me and my wife Jill and our daughter Lily are dead now, I have not dared to ask.

The body of my speech, such as it is, is sort of a prayer. Some of you may want to bow your heads. That's optional. OK, so here we go:
Chief Tom DeAngelis, dead at fifty.
Captain Fred Ill, dead at forty-seven.
Firefighter Mike Clarke, dead at twenty-seven, the kid of the bunch.
Firefighter George DePasquale, dead at thirty-four.
Firefighter Dan Harlin, dead at fifty-two.
Firefighter Tom McCann, dead at forty-one.
Firefighter Carl Molinaro, dead at thirty-two.
Firefighter Dennis Milligan, dead at thirty-two.
Firefighter Rob Parro, dead at thirty-five.
And Firefighter Dennis Germain, dead at thirty-two.

All but two left widows and children. Firefighter Carl Molinaro left a widow and a son Carl only two months old, and a daughter age two. Sabrina Molinaro.

Now the first names alone: Tom, Fred, Mike, Dennis, George, Dan, another Tom, Carl and another Dennis. Thank you, sirs. God bless you. Amen.

Thus ends my prayer. I have only one further thought, which is this one: It is daylight in Afghanistan. There are many unwelcome fires there, and many, many human beings are trying to put them out.

And I thank you for your attention.


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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

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