Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Fairfield's Hero on September 11, 2001

I had the honor of participating in New Fairfield's September 11th community remembrance service. Here is the text of my comments:

New Fairfield and neighboring Danbury paid a big price on September 11th 2001. Firefighter Chris Blackwell, Rob Higley, Candace Lee Williams and Michael Jacobs perished at the hands of terrorists. Dozens of other victims have family connections to our area on both sides of the state border.

Two-thousand-nine-hundred-seventy-seven victims.
All with a story – all with painful tears.

A tragedy of epic proportions.

Tonight we remember. Tonight we give thanks for their service and their love.

One story has deep roots in New Fairfield…

His mother said, "he was interested in anything that was dangerous. He was born with no sense of fear. When he was little he would swim underwater before he would swim on top of it. My other three children were a lot easier."

His brother shared a story about a distempered raccoon roaming the neighborhood that got too close to children playing nearby. He lead the kids to safety and then put the raccoon down.

That's the kind of guy he was. His first thought was always about others. So, it was no surprise to anyone when he became a career firefighter.

Chris Blackwell was a highly-decorated 20-year member of FDNY Rescue 3 – “Big Blue” as it is known in New York. Mr. Blackwell received the Heroism and Community Service medal in 1989, the Thomas Kennedy medal in 1990, and the Medal of Valor in 1992. He was a member of the FEMA urban search and rescue team and taught heavy rescue skills to fire departments throughout the region and the country.

Chris grew up in New Fairfield and graduated from Immaculate High School. He was a veteran, having served with the U.S. Air Force, was a 25-year member of New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department - Company A and he worked as a regional paramedic during his career.

Chris was the husband of Jane Scott Blackwell, and beloved father of Alex (Alexandra), Ryan and Samantha.

His wife, dear children, proud parents, Fran and Don, siblings, in-laws and the New Fairfield community lost a hero on September 11th 2001.

Maybe not. It seems Chris’ legacy is alive and well. His children have followed him into public service.

Chris’ daughter Alex is in law enforcement. Son Ryan is now a firefighter in the FDNY – carrying the same badge as his father - #342. Daughter Samantha is studying for a career in health care.

Jane Blackwell rose to the challenge of being a single parent – she says with tremendous help from family and friends. I imagine her faith and her guardian angel wearing badge #342 in Heaven helped along the way.

So you see – Chris Blackwell is still with us through his loving family and friends. Chris’ legacy is alive and well and we are very grateful for his service.

May God Bless America and all of the families affected by the tragedy of September 11th. Thank you.

New Fairfield High School Madrigals performing at the September 11 ceremony.