Remembering 12 Black Firefighters Killed on 9/11

Despite their stories going largely untold, mothers of these fallen heroes fight to keep their sons' memories alive.

Posted: 09/11/2012 12:16 PM EDT

On the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the lives lost on one of the most tragic days in U.S. history.

In the New York City Fire Department, which is overwhelmingly white, 12 Black firefighters lost their lives while responding to World Trade Center attacks, and now their mothers are fighting to keep their sons’ memories alive.

From the Huffington Post:

It was Leon Smith's dream to become a firefighter, Smith said. Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., the family lived right across the street from a firehouse. She said she always knew just where to find her boy. "He knew his calling even then," she said.

Leon was the driver for Ladder Company 118 in Brooklyn, on September 11, 2001, and one of 343 New York City firefighters to die while responding to the World Trade Center attacks.

“In Leon's company there were eight firefighters that got killed," Smith said. "They found the remains of six of them. They have never found my son. I have a tombstone on an empty grave. One of these days I'll have them, and I'll bury him. I'll never give up."

When the towers crumbled, Smith became part of a tragic sorority of mothers whose boys grew up to be firefighters who died as heroes. But she is also part of another circle of women, a much smaller group whose story of loss on 9/11 mirrors that of the entire FDNY family, but one often forgotten or buried in the heaps of pain.

Read the full story here.

(Photo: Huffington Post)

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