Brooklyn Park Fire Chief Shares 9/11 Story
The fire chief of Brooklyn Park was in New York City at Ground Zero shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Back then, Chief John Cunningham worked for the fire department in Greenwich, CT.
The sights and sounds of 9/11 are forever embedded in Cunningham’s mind and heart. .
“I remember just rushing back in my dorm room and turning on the news and watching it unfold,” Cunningham explained. “I was a volunteer firefighter about 35 minutes away in my hometown in Greenwich, which is right on the New York border.”
Cunningham said on that day, he rushed into the unknown along with several state troopers.
Finally in the midst of Ground Zero, the scene was nothing he could have prepared for.
“We were still hopeful that we would find someone alive at Ground Zero,” Cunningham said.
But as hours turned into days and days turned into weeks, no survivors were to be found by his team.
Cunningham lost 343 fire and police brothers. Many more have since passed due to health effects from working at the collapse site.
“And you see that across every single day, firefighters, police, emergency medical personal they run into danger while everyone is trying to get out of it.”
While the attacks left major destruction, America became united. Thousands of people held signs of gratitude and love toward the heroes.
“When September 12th hit, our country changed,” Cunningham said. “I start to choke up thinking about it because it’s emotional.”
Cunningham recalls a kid hugging him and handing him a blue ribbon that said “Who I Am Makes a Difference.” Cunningham still has the blue ribbon and hopes to find the kid one day.
“That was a profound moment because I realized that no matter what you do as a person, every small act of kindness and generosity makes a difference on the world,” he said.
Cunningham adds that after the tragedy, suddenly all the differences in the world didn’t matter anymore.
“We recognized that we have a lot more in common with each other than we do our differences,” he said.
Chief Cunningham told CCX he still keeps in touch with the firefighters he worked with at Ground Zero.