Where were you when you first realized what was happening? What were you doing? I was driving to work and I was pregnant with my first daughter. I remember hearing what I thought was some sort of fake radio promotion. It took several minutes for it to sink in that something horrible was really happening. I called my husband at home and told him to turn on the TV because a plane had crashed into a building in New York City. That was all I knew. I would know more than I could ever really imagine later that morning.
In honor of all the men and women, the husbands and wives, the fathers and mothers, the sisters and brothers, the daughters and sons who lost their lives on September 11, I wanted to repost something I wrote originally in 2006 memorializing New York firefighter Lt. Peter L. Freund.
Lt. Peter L. Freund was a native New Yorker, husband, and father of four who put his life on the line for others every week as a firefighter in New York City. He had decided to change career paths and become a high school math teacher, but was killed in the line of duty September 11. A letter from upstate Westtown High School accepting his application arrived the week after the attacks of Sept. 11. In the words of his wife, Robin, “He always said he never wanted to work one tour too many.” He was going to have a new life of summer vacations and regular schedules for him and his family, according to this Chicago Tribune article.
I’m honoring Peter today as part of D. Challener Roe’s 2,996 tribute to honor the victims of 9/11. Peter was from Westtown, N.Y. and was 45 years old. He was stationed in the Engine 55 firehouse and killed in the North Tower.
This morning Peter’s sister, Barbara Salvadore, along with his brother, Charles “Chip” Freund; Barbara’s husband, Peter Salvadore; and his brother, Walter, will arrive in Washington, D.C., along with 100 other cyclists in the Tour de Force memorial ride. They began their memorial ride Friday, September 8.
The following is an excerpt from a newspaper article that appeared in the Record Online, the online version of the Times Herald-Record, serving New York’s Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
- “This is really nothing compared to what they went through,” Barbara, 48, said of her brother, as well as her cousin, Firefighter Timothy McSweeney, who also died in the Sept. 11 attacks. In at least one day, they will ride almost 100 miles and Barbara knows the trip will take its toll. She has pictures stuck to her handlebars facing her…smiling pictures of Pete and Tim. If the roles were reversed, she said, her brother would be the first on a bike to ride for her.
Peter grew up on Staten Island. He met his wife, Robin, when he was a high school football player and she was a cheerleader. Life took them in different directions until 1987 when they married. Peter left behind four children: Peter, 9, Dori, 13, Julie, 11, as well as stepson Ronald Coronato, 24.
Serving the public was in Freund’s blood, according to a Newsday article I read about him. His late mother, Doris, was a nurse, his late father, Charles, was a New York City sheriff and his cousin, Timothy McSweeney of Ladder Co. 3 in Manhattan, died in the attacks of Sept. 11.
The Freunds had decided to raise their family in the farm country of upstate New York. Because Peter did 24-hour “tours,” he didn’t mind the nearly two-hour-commute to New York City that he made twice weekly. “When he was away, we’d talk on the phone at night so he could keep up with what the kids were doing,” said his wife, Robin. Peter had a busy schedule but he enjoyed taking the time to devote to coaching his kids’ softball, baseball and football teams. He had a passion for astronomy and had even built a backyard observatory where he could do some stargazing and listen to his favorite music by the Grateful Dead.
I salute Peter and his dedication and service to our country, along with the other victims of Sept. 11. I hope you will visit D. Challener Roe’s 2,996 tribute website and read the other memorials.