9/11 Tribute To Caldwell Fire Department With Audio Attached

Posted by admin On September - 21 - 2021

Caldwell Volunteer Fire Department – Established 1901

During this period in which 9/11 memories have been recently awakened with the 20th anniversary, I’m sure all of you who hear my voice, or read my reflections can feel similar in retrospect.  

Understand that some 20 years ago, on the first of January, while on a CNN TV news show that I was appearing on that New Year’s Day, as I have the habit of doing so every year for decades, being interviewed as to my predictions for the events to come in that year.  While my predictions were rather general, suddenly…and I’ll never forget this moment…I found myself stumbling and interrupting phrases, and then passing the remark that, I simply don’t know why I’m saying this, but I have a feeling that this year, in the month of September, a disaster will take place right here in NYC, involving 2 airlines.  I went dead silent, and it was a remark that I couldn’t even speak about for many, many days.  In essence, as I couldn’t figure out why such an impression came to me.  Needless to say, after the horrendous attack and disaster that we the American people experienced on 9/11, the memory of my remarks returned.  Several investigators, including government people called me and asked me why I had made such a prediction, and my response was as honest as I could have ever made it. “I don’t know, I just can’t seem to understand how or why”.  A few weeks later after 9/11 I was invited to walk the pathway where the 2 initial attacks took place in NYC.  I was joined by a person whose rapport and friendship I revered thru the years, Regis Philbin.  We walked, traversing those memorable grounds filled with horrendous memories.  About the only thing Regis and I said to each other was Hello.  I couldn’t speak, I was paralyzed, with the emotion and the reawakening of that tragedy and thinking about the thousands of people it effected.

Now I find in the town in which I grew up, Caldwell, NJ, a most inspiring scenario, where the Fire Department of Caldwell, in recognition of the sacrifices that fireman have made in their work through the many years (established in 1901).  The department put together, as you can see from these fascinating and remarkable photographs, taken by Bob and Janet Markman.  The salute and recognition that the years have created with the department of volunteers, and by the way, yes, let me repeat, volunteer firemen, that is how this wonderful group has existed for so many years, with its successful service.  I’ve probably walked past the Fire Department hundreds and hundreds of times, since my grandparents, the Cantalo’s from Sicily, built their home, on the same street as the Fire Department with the location some 5 buildings or so away.  In the thousands of visitations at my grandparents home and overnight stays, the fact is that I had my personal room there for years, I would occasionally hear the sound announcing a fire in the area.  When that fire alarm rang over and over again, every member of the fire department, left their job, whatever they were working at and rushed to Caldwell, NJ fire building, mounting a fire engines and leaving with the police following or guiding them to the source of the fire.  One of these members was my Uncle Frank Spencer, who had a highly rated car repair business just a few blocks away on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell. Not only was he a volunteer fireman, but he later on in life became the Chief of the Fire Department.  Again all those years, he and his people, never received a penny, as the place has remained a volunteer department.  I can’t even estimate how many rides I took on fire engines to destinations where they had to save the home or the setting or prevent the further development of fire that sometimes covered a city block.

I’m proud that he was named Fire Chief, but I’m also realizing this reflects the Fire Departments all over the United States and the service of Police in various cities, including Caldwell, where my brother, Joseph Kresge, was a law enforcement officer for 22 years.  When we think of their service, and the military throughout this country, we are truly blessed.  We can never forget these people.  From the military, to fire fighters, to law enforcement, to medical personnel, who have given of their services, with their hearts and sometimes with their lives, to protect you and me. 


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