The Day After “The Day”

Chaplain David Dave Fair, President of ChaplainUSA, shares his memories of Ground Zero and the toll it has taken on all those who responded in the days following Sept 11.

Chaplain David Fair

Chaplain David Fair

This is a difficult post to write. 18 years ago I was deployed to the site of the World Trade Center in NYC, following the 911 attack.

After my time there I thought I was ok. But I started having flu like symptoms. Couldn’t figure it out. I finally called a psychologist friend who worked with law enforcement officers. I asked her what was wrong with me.

Her reply was you were at Ground Zero. As simple as that.

Fellow Police Chaplains, I had been trained for all types of mass disasters. I taught crisis management. I had been deployed to various scenes dozens of times, yet this was 911.

If you have read by post on the actual deployment, then you know what I and hundreds of other endured.

But this was different. I had experienced Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). But I had never felt this way. It was 911.

My psychologist friend talked with me, and it came to the surface. What was causing most of my trauma was the fact I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything while at Ground Zero.

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I had talked to dozens of survivors, family, friends and responders. Yet I still didn’t feel like I had done enough. My friend walked me through my story of my time in New York, and I began to see I did exactly what God had me there for. No more. No less.

Now let’s jump to yesterday 18th Anniversary of The World Trade Center 911 attack. This is the first time in 18 years I haven’t been asked to tell my story, somewhere. Are we starting to forget ? I’m not.

Yesterday was extremely hard for me. Depressed, anxious. Today isn’t much better. I’m sharing my heart so others can see that after 18 years it is still ok to grieve.

It is hard for me to get this personal. Hard for me to admit and share this.

Yesterday, I stayed mostly in bed. Covers pulled over my head. Depressed, anxious.

Didn’t feel like going anywhere so I didn’t and today is not a lot better. I’ve been working on the Police Chaplain Coffee Shop today, because I don’t want to let our members and my friends down.

A neat thing happened last night. Around 9:30, I received a text from an old friend. One I hadn’t heard from in a long time. Keoki is a Police Chaplain in Hawaii, he said “ Thinkin’ about you. Have a blessed Day, thank you for serving.”

Keoki is a past president of the International Conference of Police Chaplains. (ICPC) Thank you my friend.

This really lifted my spirits. Really helped. Often it is the little things that help.

God will get me through this. Just remember those who were at any attack scene from 911, experienced the 18th anniversary yesterday, and although people are affected by trauma many ways. Just a smile and kind word will help.

Or maybe a cup of coffee in the Police Chaplain Coffee Shop.

Thanks to all who deployed, thanks to all those behind who prayed. Keep it up.