Firefighter Thomas M. Butler was a member of FDNY Squad 1. Tom's life was dedicated to service. A 12 year veteran of the FDNY, Thomas was also a former NYPD Officer and a member of the US Navy Reserve, assigned to the Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit. He also served as the bay constable in Smithtown‚ N.Y.
As Tom's wife wrote in 2006, "Everyday was important to him and he lived it like it was his last." His laid back attitude was epitomized by him constantly reminding his family and friends to "Don't sweat the small stuff!".
Tom and Martha had three children, Kelly, 4, Shawn 6 and Patrick 8 months. On September 9, Patrick and Martha christened Patrick. Tom, true to his fun-loving nature, wanted a big party. Martha protested. Tom won out. Tom bought a new suit just for the occasion. This turned out to be the last time many of their family and friends saw Tom. One could hardly imagine a better, more tributing farewell to someone like Tom, than a large family party.
|Kings Park Bluff Memorial, Smithtown, NY|
As I write this, my family is planning a Bat Mitzvah for our daughter. Like Tom, I will be planning a big party for her, and yes, I will be buying a new suit as well.
I have eulogized several firefighters over the course of my participation in Project 2,996. I think it is important to remember these brave heroes. As everyone wanted out of those towers, these men and women ran in, with the sole purpose to protect us. Yet, we are letting them down. The statistics are well known. On 9/11, 343 firefighters (including a chaplain and two paramedics) of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY); 37 police officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD); 23 police officers of the New York City Police Department (NYPD);8 emergency medical technicians and paramedics from private emergency medical services and
1 Patrolman from the New York Fire Patrol all died. Yet the FDNY and NYPD keep adding names to the list of fallen heroes. Since 9/11, more than 150 firefighters have died of cancers caused from their time at the site. Just his year, more than 500 NYPD and FDNY officers were diagnosed with new cancers. This is unacceptable. The fact that Congress took so long to pass the Zadroga Act is disgusting. The fact that they let it lapse in 2015 is despicable. That they reinstated it for 75 years is at least promising. Why it is not permanent, is beyond explanation.