Big Weather reflects on Sept. 11, life's storms and what it means to be a first responder

Don Schwenneker Image
Friday, September 11, 2020
Remembering Sept. 11, 2001 and thanking first responders
EMBED <>More Videos

ABC11's Don Schwenneker remembers the first responders who were impacted by the events of Sept. 11.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Normally on a Friday I would post a recipe. But today is a different kind of Friday.

September 11th, 2001 was such a pretty day where I was. If you were around back then, you probably remember where you were too. Then the towers were hit and everything changed. It was such a shocking moment. I remember praying for all the first responders working that morning. You see, I was one.

Yes, I was a weather guy too, but I was also a firefighter at Station 4 in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. It's a suburb of Pittsburgh. Though we didn't have any towers in our town, I had many hours of training in hot places and I knew what a hell those men and women were rushing into. And yet, they still went in.

We lost so many that day. My heart still breaks when I think about them. Not just that day, but the ones we lost in the months and years since from the ground zero sickness. It was such a devastating loss.

How about you? Do you remember what happened around our country after that day? Did you talk to a neighbor? Did you call a friend you hadn't heard from in a while? Did you just feel thankful to be alive? It was a terrible event that brought about some amazing changes. I wonder if we are again in one of those times.

With the mess that is COVID-19 going on, I really miss people. I miss laughing in a group. I miss having a cocktail with my wife at our local watering hole. The thing about every storm though, even a hurricane, is the storm will eventually rain itself out.

I remember covering my first hurricane in North Carolina. Hurricane Bertha hit the Outer Banks in the 90s and I was a correspondent for a different network at the time. The thing that surprised me the most was the sunshine AFTER the storm. Once Bertha moved on, the very next day was beautiful. It was sunny. It was blue. I KNOW in my heart the rain is almost done with this storm, and there are sunny days ahead.

In the meantime, I am thankful for every man or woman who stands as the light in every dark storm. I am thankful they light the way to show us a safe path. I am thankful for first responders.

Thank you. You are appreciated and loved.