As a child, Josephine Smith often told her dad she would be fighting fires right beside him when she grew up. It was her lifelong passion. But, that day never happened. Her father, Kevin Smith, a 23-year veteran of the FDNY and a charter member of its Hazardous Materials Company 1 (HAZMAT), was one of the 343 FDNY members who perished after responding to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
FDNY HAZMAT shares their quarters with Squad 288 in Maspeth, Queens, and the two units work closely with one another. They lost a combined 19 men (11 from HAZMAT) on 9/11, which was the greatest number of firefighters lost from a single firehouse that day.
At the time of the attacks, HAZMAT had 39 members (four officers and 35 firefighters). A total of 51 children were left fatherless when the firefighters of HAZMAT and Squad 288 lost their lives while saving others. Kevin, who earlier in life served as a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, was the father of eight.
Josephine was 21 years old when she lost her dad. But, her desire to follow in his footsteps never abated. In fact, after 9/11, Josephine became even more driven to fulfill her dream of being a member of the FDNY.
Fast forward 13 years and the promise she made to her dad was fulfilled. In November of 2014, after 18 weeks of intense, vigorous training, Josephine graduated from the Fire Academy and became the first daughter of a fallen 9/11 responder to join the ranks of the FDNY.
Today, Josephine is the lone female firefighter in the FDNY’s Engine 39 Ladder 16 located on the upper east side of Manhattan. She epitomizes what the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s StandTall mantra represents. Josephine is devoted to a life of putting service before self. Not only does she honor her father each day she puts on the uniform, she’s serves as a tremendous role model, encouraging and inspiring women interested in becoming firefighters to follow their dreams.
Like Kevin and Josephine Smith, Stephen Siller and fellow firefighters, law enforcement officers, and the brave men and women of our military, we can all be first responders. We can be the first to respond to adversity with kindness, the first to extend a hand when our neighbor falls down, the first to show that we, too, don’t walk away from someone in need. We run to them.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation encourages everyone to stand tall and show their support for our nation’s first responders, and to inspire every American to take the example of first responders to heart.
If we stand tall for one another, there will always be someone to catch us when we fall.
Please stand tall by helping us hit our goal of having 1,000,000 people donate a minimum of $11. Click on the following link to make your donation http://t2t.org/stand.tall/.
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