In memory of Lt. Harvey L. Harrell
Today I am honored to pay tribute to Lt. Harvey L. Harrell who was a 22-year veteran of the FDNY, Rescue Co. 5 in Concord.
Lt. Harrell, known as Buddy, was 49 years old when he died on September 11, 2001. Lt. Harrell was one of 11 members of Rescue Co. 5 lost from the firehouse on Clove Road that day.
"Even then it was almost incomprehensible to know that they were both there," said Barbara Harrell.
Lt. Harvey Harrell's brother, Lt. Stephen Harrell of upstate Warwick and with Ladder Co. 10, also died when he was among the first to respond to the attack on Tower 1. He was 44 years old.
Although Lt. Stephen Harrell's body was recovered, Buddy's was never found.
Now, five years after the attacks, I find myself wondering how could I possibly pay tribute to a hero like Buddy. A man I never had the privilege of knowing, a man that is so deeply missed by his family.
Like so many others that lost their lives that tragic day, Buddy was a hero. He knew he had to save lives and there was nothing that was going to stop him. Buddy was a son, a husband, a dad and a brother. I can't begin to imagine the void his family must feel, even today.
In trying to research Buddy, I had a hard time finding anything on him. I think the best way to pay tribute to him is by writing a letter to him.
Today I am honoring you as a man, a firefighter and a true hero. 9/11 changed my life, as it did for others. There is not one day that goes by that I don't remember what happened and privately honor those that lost their lives. You, like so many others, put your life at risk to save as many people as you could.
As I have learned, you were Off-duty on the morning of September 11th but you rushed to join your company as they responded to the WTC site. What I have seen on t.v. must not compare to what you saw as you arrived at the Twin Towers. Like the hero that you are, you had no fear, no second guesses and no doubts. You rushed into the towers as a fast as you could to help so many. So many people that didn't know your name, so many that survived and were able to go home to their families. You sacrificed your life for them and I know in my heart that they join me today in paying tribute to you.
I hope that I have done your memory proper justice in this tribute today. When I signed up for this project and was given your name, I had chills. You see Buddy, you and my daughter share the same last name. That alone made this so much more important than I thought it could ever be. To know that somehow you, your family, my daughter and myself were connected, made me so proud to be doing this today.
My daughter is too young to understand what 9/11 was about, but when she's old enough, I will have the honor of sharing your story with her. I will be able to tell her about this brave and caring man who fearlessly ran in to the WTC and helped so many people.
I found a posting online from your daughter, Elyse. She posted it on Friday, January 3rd, 2003.
"The emptiness inside me is not diminishing with time, as it was rumored to do, for every day I learned of another soul lost in the attacks that defaced the NYC skyline. Mostly firemen that worked alongside with my dad. I can still smell the bunker gear from the frequent visits from the members of Rescue 5. Just a couple of months prior to Sept. 11th, my dad was mourning one of his friends. He decided to write a poem. He slaved over this for almost a month. The day he had finished he asked me if it was good. I read ...
"Try not to think of the ending, for few are good. And none can be changed.
Think of the beginning and the times in between, for these are the things that bring joy to one's heart in a time of pain.
Think of the laughter and the good times you shared and will always remember.
For these are the things that will never change or leave us."
By Harvey Harrell, Nov. 11, 2000
I never thought that what I was reading would be the words used to describe his life on his mass card. He inspired me. "
Because of this experience, you and your family will always be in my thoughts and prayers. Just like Elyse, you have inspired me too.
Let us not forget those that lost their lives on September 11th. Let them remain in our hearts and prayers forever!