NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A retired Lieutenant with the New York Fire Department honored his brothers and all victims Wednesday who died during the 9/11 attacks.
Eighteen years after the 9/11 attacks, Steve Gillespie, a retired Lieutenant with NYFD and current North Charleston Fire Department training captain, shared his story for the first time.
“It was my day off,” Gillespie said. “My wife called me and told me a plane hit the world trade center. When I got to the TV to see what was happening, I was shocked.”
September 10, 2001, Gillespie was on duty. A day later, September 11, 2001 when terror struck the nation, Gillespie was in the Bronx on his day off.
“That day all six members of my firehouse were killed on September 11,” Gillespie said.
Gillespie said if the attack happened a day earlier or later, he would have been among the 343 first responders who died. Now, he focuses on the many memories he created with his old squad.
“Every time we backed into the firehouse, I would thank each of them individually,” Gillespie said. “Their pictures were on the right and I would thank each one of them for bringing us back safely.”
After serving nearly 20 years in New York, he moved to North Charleston for a fresh start, but he never forgets.
“I think about my brothers all the time,” he said.
He now leans on his new brothers and sisters in the North Charleston Fire Department. Wednesday, North Charleston fire and police departments and the community honored the 343 first responders who died trying to save thousands of people on 9/11. As well as those who died from the effects of 9/11.
“We need to honor them, respect them and love them,” North Charleston’s Mayor Keith Summey said.
“It’s especially important as first responders that we remember the sacrifice that died in the line of duty,” North Charleston’s Fire Chief, Greg Bulanow said.
That’s what many first responders in the Lowcountry and across the world are doing. Especially Gillespie, even though he says this time of year is always tough.
“Everyday isn’t good,” Gillespie said. “Today [Wednesday] is a good day but yesterday wasn’t. I try to think of all the good things all the funny stories. They were a bunch of characters”
Gillespie continues to carry his brother’s legacies while honoring all of the 9/12 victims and still sacrificing with his fellow first responders. Gillespie said he never had survivor’s guilt, but he did develop post traumatic stress disorder. He said now he spends his time doing lectures with other Lowcountry first responders on how he went from post traumatic stress to post traumatic growth.