msnbc | September 05, 2011
>>> less than a week away from the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 and thousands are already paying tribute to the fallen especially those in the new york city fire department . on sunday, friends and loved ones joined in a walk of remembrance for father michael judge . he's the franciscan priest in the fdny chaplain who died when the first power collapsed. his life is just one of many being honored among the 343 bravest who died that day. tim brown is a refired new york city firefighter and author of "the bravest." tim, nice to see you this morning. it was dozens like you firefighters who were on the scene watching as these buildings were collapsing and in some instances running inside still trying to save people. psychologically as this anniversary approaches, how has it changed year to year for you and especially now as we come up on the tenth anniversary?
>> well, i guess the memories never go away. the hurt and the pain are always there in our hearts and in our minds. but other love and joy comes into our lives, thankfully, that little bit and try to give us a little bit more happiness in our lives.
>> so is there a way to -- i guess repair some of that pain or does it just become easier to cope with?
>> easier to cope with i think. it's -- my friend tanya who lost her fiance sergio says it is letting go without letting go. you know? so it's always there in our hearts, but periods through the day we find happiness in love and joy again.
>> with the fdny losing 343 firefighters, paramedics lost that day, including some of the most senior officers, in your estimation has the department been able to recover from that?
>> it's been a great struggle for the fire department . but with their great leadership under the commissioner and chief, they have fought to get back. you can never replace the experience that the new york city fire department lost that day but you can slowly build it back up and maybe in another ten years we'll have men that are that experienced.
>> specifically when it cops to first responders@, in the months that followed 9/11, we learned of the physical and emotional toll that it took on so many people that day, of the fdny suffering everything from ptsd to lung disease to survivors guilt. how do you think that the fdny and those first responders are doing today? do you think enough has been done to make them as whole as can be?
>> as can be, yes, i agree with that. the new york city fire department has a medical monitoring program, is what i believe is the gold standard in treatment of health for first respond irs. i went through a health scare a couple weeks ago. luckily it turned out okay. there are a lot of firefighters who are sick with lung problems and now we've seen the new study that shows a 19% increase in all types of cancer in new york city firefighters. i think this is just the beginning of what's going to be a very difficult thing for us to face as the cancer increases in us.
>> i want to make sure i get this right. one of my producers has family in the fdny and knew several firefighters who died that day. he says one of the things he heard a firefighter say at a memorial service for ladder 35's jimmy geiberson ten years ago was, look at how many were evacuated from those towers. it was the greatest rescue operation in the history of the world and we did it in one day. is that the sentiment that people can carry and look back on this now as we all as a nation heal and move forward, but think about, okay, look at how many lives were saved that day.
>> mayor giuliani says it was the worst day of his life and the best day of his life all in one. i agree with him on that. i mean obvious -- it's obvious what the worst part is for us. but the fact that we helped rescue so many people, captain patty brown from ladder 3, his last recorded words were this is ladder 3 and we're still going up. and that embodies the bravery and the courage of the new york city fire department . even when they knew they were going up the stairs to heaven, they still did it and they still saved asp lives as they could.
>> tim brown , we appreciate all that you've done during your service career and also appreciate you coming in and talking today. where are you going to be on 9/11?
>> i'm going to spend it with my family. i do that every year. i go to connecticut and be with my mom and dad . that's what's most important, after all.
>> very good point there. tim, again, great to meet you. thank you for your time today. appreciate it.