The devastation, the emotions, the shattered dreams and the hurt never go away, says retired FDNY Firefighter Vinny Brennan as he remembers his brother Pete, who perished at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
Firefighter Pete Brennan was assigned to Rescue 4, and was helping with the evacuation effort when he met his fate.
His wife was pregnant with a son, Conner, who was born on Christmas Eve -- what would have been Pete's birthday.
Vinny remembers his brother's passion to be a firefighter. But, when that didn't happen quick enough for him, he first became a NYPD officer.
Eventually, his dream would be realized.
"He was a funny guy, a practical joker."
As a firefighter himself, Vinny remembers listening to the dispatch for the WTC. He wondered who would go for the various alarms, and where they would be staged.
When he saw the first pictures of the tower burning he said he knew they would never get the fire out. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the second plane hit. He knew America was under attack.
As his son also was on duty that day with FDNY EMS, he worried.
He speaks with pride when he talks about the choice firefighters made to run into the towers to help people.
He says he spoke with firefighters who tell stories about crews hugging one another and shaking hands when they met in the stairwells because they knew they may not make it out.
When he saw the towers go down, he was hoping for the best for both his son and his brother.
The following day when Vinny got to Pete's firehouse, a lieutenant told him they didn't know where anyone was or how many were missing.
He added that others told him: "We kinda knew the area they were in. But, it's not there anymore."
As a member of the FDNY counseling unit, Vinny started assisting with a number of tasks including answering calls from desperate relatives of firefighters.
"I'd tell them they hadn't checked in yet, and that we were looking. I also told them they were still on duty. I never used MIA or presumed dead."
Vinny paused a number of times while recalling the days and weeks after the terrorists' attack.
"I still hurt. Everyday is a 9/11 day..."
In addition to continuing his work with the FDNY counseling unit, Vinny also helps the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. "They were phenomenal what they did."
Vinny vows to keep his brother's memory alive by helping others.