Posted by: whimsigal | October 6, 2008

How I Spent My Birthday

This year was very different for me. Usually on my birthday I’m very self-centered and concentrate on what I’m getting or what is being done for ME. However, this year, my husband came to me with a request for us to do something else that had absolutely nothing to do with my birthday at all and I didn’t have the heart to tell him no. Through work, my husband is involved with an organization called the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. They are a wonderful group who provides support in many different forms to the families of fallen firefighters. Every October, they hold a memorial service for all the brave men and women lost in the line of duty the previous year. Sean has been wanting to attend this event for the last four years because he really respects the organization and feels what they do is so important so this year, he asked me if I minded if we attended this event. It always falls on my birthday and I just couldn’t say no. I have to say, it was an amazing experience and I walked away from it with a much greater appreciation for the men and woman who so selflessly put themselves in harm’s way in order to help their neighbors. They aren’t getting paid tons of money to do this, they do because they heard the call to serve.

We left Friday evening and drove 6 hours to Emmitsburg, MD only to have to get up early and go over to the Memorial Site. We were TIRED! LOL Sean was volunteering his time on Saturday morning to help the NFFF get things set up so I walked around the campus by myself and snapped some shots of the grounds. There were quite a few monuments dedicated to firefighters:

This one is HUGE! Can you see how big it is in relation to the people on the ground and the building next to it? It was donated by the artist to the foundation and is a representation of firemen at Ground Zero. It’s quite an impressive piece of work.

This is the Civil Defense Monument.

NFFF Weekend_0018.jpg
This is the entrance to the memorial for fallen firefighters. Inside are plaques inscribed with the names of firemen and women who died in the line of duty. I was particularly moved to see the plaque from Sept. 11th.

On Saturday, there was a ginormous bike ride in honor of firefighters everywhere and when I say bike ride, I’m not talking tricycles people. Nooooo. THIS is what I’m talking about:

That’s right. Motorcycles baby. You ain’t seen nothin’ until hundreds of bikes come rumbling past you, all decked out in flags, fireman’s helmets, playing bagpipe music. It was awesome. One bike in particular stuck out at me, check it out:

Isn’t that bike hot? The lady who owns it had a Louis Vuitton seat made:

custom seat.jpg

I loved it! She had a pink helmet and shirt on, too. What a sweet lady she was. When I asked if I could take some pics of her bike, she was incredibly generous and offered to let me sit on it and get my picture taken, too. I declined because I was feeling embarrassed about it but was internally doing jumping jacks at the offer.

Motorcyclists love to ride for charity:


My pink bike friend rides her bike in charity events for breast cancer research. Very giving spirits.

The bike ride was the last event on Saturday so Sean and I entertained ourselves for the rest of the day. On Sunday morning, my b-day, we got up and took the shuttle back over to the academy so we could watch the service.
NFFF Weekend_0020.jpg
It was so moving! The program was filled with stories of the firefighters who had died and I couldn’t hold back the tears for long. It was a beautiful service and it will not leave my mind for many days to come. I left there with such a feeling of appreciation, gratitude, and respect for the people who put their lives on the line every day. Something I took for granted as just always being there.

It made me want to be sure that my boys know there is more to life than college and the business world. There is something honorable about serving your community in a capacity like this and in many other ways and I just hope they grow up feeling like it’s as much an option for them as going into the corporate world is.

If you’d like to see the rest of the photos I took you may click on this link to see the set. There aren’t a lot in there but you should get the gist. I may edit more and add them later.

Sean got me a new camera. 🙂 I used my new one to take all of these photos.

Hope your weekend went well!!



  1. Wow! That is so cool that you hauled out there on your birthday. I remembered being so moved by people of service after 9-11. Hope you had a great birthday, and thanks for sharing this. And I so wanted to see you on that bike!-K

  2. Oooo, Happy Birthday!! What a great way to spend the day!

  3. K- I was terrified that I’d pop the tires on it or else I totally would have done it. LOL 9/11 really did bring to our attention just how dangerous that job can be and how brave the men and women are who choose that career, didn’t it? I just feel so awed by them!

    Carri! Thanks! It was a great day indeed! Beautiful and inspiring!

  4. That really looks like a great weekend and so moving!

  5. Happy Belated Birthday!

    I am not sure if I could go there. It hits just a little too close to home. My hubby is a firefighter. Nine of the men that were honored this year died in a fire in Charleston, SC. That is about an hr from me. I remember that day and the nightmares that followed for a week.

    Two years ago we had the traveling 9/11 memorial exhibit here. I was in tears while walking through it. They also had the NYPD Bagpipe Band come through playing. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

  6. Oh, Chrissy! There were a LOT of people talking about the Charleston 9 at the memorial. What an incredible tragedy. You and your husband have my utmost respect because being a firefighter and a wife of a firefighter is a huge sacrifice to make for your community. We really appreciate his service!

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