We Drank Champagne and Remembered

I have been out of town for the past several days, and, as it happens, I was with my writing partner, “Holmes,” in Arizona last night when the news went public that Bin Laden is dead. We broke open a bottle of champagne and toasted. Not in merriment or triumph, but in solemn gratitude to everyone who brought this success for all Americans to fruition. The following is Holmes’ comment on this important landmark in our fight against terrorism. . . .


Tonight, I feel a sense of relief at the death of the bestial mass murderer, extortionist, rapist, and common thief, Osama Bin Laden. His death does not signify an end to the war against terror, but it is a significant achievement. I feel a deep sense of gratitude at having been afforded the privilege to serve with the many great Americans and Allies, and the many sympathetic and helpful people throughout the world who have chosen to stand on the side of decency. I remain thankful to every one of them for their commitment and sacrifices.

Tonight, I feel a need to reflect on the loss of thousands of Americans from the 9/11 attacks, and the other attacks perpetrated by Bin Laden’s sick worshipers. I hope that tonight’s news can bring some measure of closure to the thousands of loved ones who suffered losses on that terrible day.

Tonight, in particular, I find myself thinking of New York City Fire Marshal and part-time member of the United States Army Special Forces, Ronnie Bucca. Ronnie had served as a member of the renowned New York City Fire Department “Rescue 1” and had been involved in daring rescue operations that seem too far-fetched for Hollywood movies. After suffering a broken spine in one such rescue in Manhattan, Ronnie defied medical science and was able to return to duty and became a Fire Marshall for New York City.

Ronnie was one of the individuals who struggled mightily against a second attack on the Twin Towers. (Remember that the 9/11 attacks were the second attack on the Twin Towers, the first being a truck bombing in 1993.) Ronnie’s experience with the first Twin Towers bombing, as well as his experience as a United States Army Intelligence Specialist, a Fire Marshal, and a member of Rescue 1, gave him a unique perspective on terrorist threats, and Ronnie was convinced that another attack on the Twin Towers was highly likely.

Ronnie reached out to a variety of people concerning his well-founded fears. Had more people listened to him, the attack might have been thwarted. On 9/11, Ronnie was on duty as a Fire Marshal. When he heard the news, he and his partner went to the World Trade Center and entered the complex to help in the evacuation and firefighting efforts. Ronnie and his fellow fire fighters must have known that they had little chance of surviving that fire, but it didn’t stop them from trying to save as many lives as possible.

The last conversation I had with Ronnie Bucca was about his concern for a possible attack on the Twin Towers. I send my renewed condolences and my respect to his wife, Eve, and to their two children, Jessica and Ronald. We have not forgotten Ronnie.

To all those who have lost loved ones in the fight against terrorism, they, too, are remembered.



27 comments on “We Drank Champagne and Remembered

  1. Peter Saint-Clair says:

    Personally I find the news bittersweet. I was apart of one of the first Air Force A-10 squadrons to deploy to Bagrham AB, Afghanistan doing close air support missions. We forward deployed from Kuwait (we were doing stuff for Operation Southern Watch). I was pretty much brand new and they only took me because they didn’t have any body else. Anyway, while I didn’t see anything close to what the Army or Marine Corps saw, when the words “Scramble, scramble, scramble” came over the loudspeaker, I felt a pride like no other. To scramble jets means to haul ass and get the planes in the air within 15 or 20 minutes or so. Anyways, to make a long story short, I’m happy that we got him, but sad because I wasn’t with my brothers and sisters in uniform (either at home or deployed) to celebrate. I can’t explain the feeling actually, so sad is as close as I can get to the feeling…thanks for the post Piper, I’ll be having a few tonight in honor of those who never came home and those who did.

    • JH says:

      “I was pretty much brand new and they only took me because they didn’t have any body else.”

      That’s a perfect reason. I’m glad you were there. Thank you for defending my wife and children. I assure that the arrival of an A-10 and other close air support assets changes the situation on the ground radically. From the design and manufacture of the ordnance, to the last radio check it takes a lot of highly skilled hard work to put one in the air.

      “but sad because I wasn’t with my brothers and sisters in uniform”

      It’s Tuesday and I am still dealing with similar emotions. It’s hard to leave your wife and children behind and go. In some ways it’s harder to stay. I have to remind myself that my duty has not ended, it has changed. Whatever you do, do it well. Be the best neighbor, brother, parent, and teacher that you can be. By doing so you build a monument to your brothers and sisters that matters, a better world. Nobody will know. Nobody but you, that’s enough.

  2. ellieswords says:

    Thank you Ronnie, thank you Holmes. A touching post.
    Thank you, Piper, for sharing these thoughts.

  3. kerrymeacham says:

    God bless America.

  4. Dave says:

    I’m reminded of a speech that appeared on this blog not so long ago. It’s worth repeating it here now…

    “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


  5. Jami Gold says:

    Thank you, Holmes, for summing up so many emotions. Pride in our military and sadness that nothing can bring back those who were lost.

  6. Gene Lempp says:

    Thanks for posting this Piper, and thank Holmes for finding such a poignant way to remind us all of 9/11 and the impact that it had on so many families.

  7. M.E. Anders says:

    Thank you Piper. Holmes, thank you for mirroring this latest victory with that of true heroes at 9/11.

    • JH says:

      As strange as it might sound, I’m not sure that Ronald Bucca would be comfortable with the title “hero”. He didn’t look like we might expect a hero to look like. He lacked the size and supernatural qualities that the job title infers. Ronnie was a normal person that achieved great things. None of us gets to choose our height, our speed, our intelligence, or our “good looks”. We do get to choose our character. Ronnie chose well.

  8. kadja1 says:

    I too have somewhat mixed feelings on the issue. I agree that getting rid of this low life “thug” was a great achievement thus far. By the same token, it does not bring closure to those who will always have an empty place at their dinner table. Until the last of these thugs are caught and dealt with swiftly, there is always a chance of more suffering later on. The first thing that needs to happen is that the U.S. needs to stop giving ANY money to nations that harbor these thugs and/or have ties with Hamas. They also need to cut funds to any country who gave aid and comfort to these thugs.

  9. kadja1 says:

    Sorry I repeated myself. I worked all night!

    • JH says:

      Sorry you had to work all night. But I’m glad it got done. It makes up for my lethargy yesterday.

  10. educlaytion says:

    I didn’t react when the news came in. I felt neutral in a way. What I mean is that I felt justice had been served to this man but celebration wasn’t a response that made sense. I did actually turn on the television, even the news, for 30 minutes. That’s a crazy enough turn of events in my world.

  11. kadja1 says:

    I agree with you Clay…This is not over…When it is, then I’ll be a bit more ready to celebrate…

  12. While I understand that Bin Laden killed a lot of people, my question is, is it really over? Now that he’s gone, maybe we should focus on reaching out and giving love to the Middle East. That way, we would prevent (or at least, lessen) the growth of new terrorists. Isolation leads to prejudice. Prejudice leads to injustice. Injustice leads to fighting.

    • kadja1 says:

      Not to be a party pooper, but we have been trying that for decades in the form of giving massive foreign aid. Either these countries need to stand up and take charge of these thugs and deal with them, or we need to pull the money out and use it for other purposes–like paying China back.

  13. […] We Drank Champagne and Remembered by Piper Bayard — remembering one of NYC’s 9/11 tragedies and the hope of closure with bin Laden’s death […]

  14. […] A great blog for this week, in light of Bin Laden’s death. A tribute to the heroes, since those are the people we should remember. Piper Bayard’s We Drank Champagne and Remembered. […]

  15. […] Julie Hedlund’s tribute to her daughter: Gratitude Sunday 68 Tameri Etherton’s creative pursuit of honing a grateful attitude: New Year’s Resolutions Piper Bayard’s commemoration of heros from 9/11: We Drank Champagne and Remembered […]

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