- Posted September 10, 2008 by
Brooklyn, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
FDNY Fireman reunites with child fire victim he saved 38 years ago
My brothers and I took my father, Arthur McKee, who has been battling cancer since 1991, up to New York City to see his old fireman buddies, relevant landmarks and family one last time. (Pictured in front of the rig of Ladder 148 are Art's grandchildren Kyle and Kayla McKee, sons James, John, and myself, Robert McKee , daughter-in-law Pamela and FDNY veteran Arthur McKee.)
While in the city, I thought it would be neat to try to locate a girl mentioned in an article he had in a scrapbook, detailing how in 1970 as a five year old, she was unconscious by smoke in a deadly synagogue fire, and my father stuck with her and rescuscitated her three times bringing her back to life.
It took a lot of research to coordinate from my town of Fort Worth, Texas, but I finally made contact with the family, and we arranged to surprise my father with a reunion of this woman 38 years later. Her family and I made arrangements over a series of calls, so a tremendous amount of their familiy were waiting. As we approached the former scene of the 1970 fire, my father didn't immediately recognize the building, so he had no idea why we were there or what was to come. It was a very Oprah-like surprise :) .. While there, the current guard of Ladder 148 added to the surprise by dropping by the site to help celebrate their veteran firehouse brother. The brotherhood of those folks truly astound me; they really are the greatest kinds of people.
My father had always mentioned that saving lives were part of the job of being a fireman, but little did any of us know the little girl he saved grew up to be a woman with eleven children and a grandchild! Many of them were on-hand at the former site of the fire (where one of the relatives still lives) and the day was, to say the least, very emotional, inspirational, and incredibly awesome. His valiant efforts were celebrated by the many Orthodox Jewish members of that family in a very special way, and it made me very proud to be the son of an FDNY firefighter.
(the parents of the victim couldn't make the reunion as they were in London, but one of the video clips features the moment they were able to speak to my father via speakerphone)
Even when it's not 9/11, we should all recognize how these firemen selflessly save lives and truly are real heroes.