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Sunday, September 10, 2006

In memory of Lt. Harvey L. Harrell

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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.

Dear Buddy,

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!


Anonymous Cari said...

Jen, that was absolutely beautiful! I love letter and the post from his daughter too- Very well done!
Love ya,

6:00 AM  
Blogger kateandjona said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute to an American hero.

I especially appreciated the words of his daughter - my son lost his father in 1999 and it is so important to honor the grief of the children.

Jonathon's Closet remembers Robert Levine, lost when Tower 1 came down.

6:04 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Very moving tribute.

I wrote a tribute to another member of FDNY Rescue 5, Douglas C. Miller. He left behind 3 young daughters.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Kathie said...

Thank you for such a poignant, memorable and heartwarming tribute to Lt. Harrell. Dale's 2,996 project has allowed me to learn so much about what equates to the population of an entire town at a level of intimacy I couldn't comprehend prior to taking part in it. Who would have dreamed having that humbling connection with people who no longer walk the Earth? Surely not me! So thank you for making Harvey come to life for me, it was a very moving tribute.

Our family has honored: Jimmy Audiffred, Frederick Kuo Jr., Francis Nazario and Juan Salas.

Can you help? Some of the 2,996 victims don't have tributes or the ones posted were missing so much, it would be a disservice to their memory, family and friends if one wasn't posted that truly honored them. For a list of these individuals and more info, please go to: and click on "Remembering The Forgotten".

Thanks again and God bless,

10:24 PM  
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8:44 AM  
Blogger spencdo said...

God bless the heroes and their families.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Howard Hoffman said...

I never heard of Lt. Harvey L Harrell before. At the SF Giants baseball game yesterday, Sep 11, 2011, everyone was handed a placard with an American flag on one side, and the name of a 9-11 victim on the other side. I might not have thought too much about it, except that I share the same initials, HLH. There are approx 17,500 different combinations of 3 initials, so it was a longshot. Researching Lt. Harrell and ending up on this page, I must say how proud anyone who was related to him should feel. A true American hero.

2:32 PM  

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