September 10, 2006

Shawn E. Powell - His Glass Was Full

About a Month ago, my wonderful friend Nanner posted a note about a project called the 2996 Project. The goal of the project was to have one individual blogger pay tribute to each and every single victim of the 9/11 tragedy. I signed up for the project, and I was asked to pay tribute to Shawn Edward Powell, Age 32, a NYC Firefighter who died in the collapse of the WTC.

Shawn Powell

On August 28, the 2996th name was assigned a blogger, assuring that the project would be complete. For more information about the project, you can also go here.

On September 11, 2001, I came home early from work where a hundred employees crowded into a tiny break room staring at an equally tiny television in disbelief. I sat at home watching the television coverage, hugging my 11 month old son tight and feeling such a huge spectrum of emotions that I was overwhelmed. Anger, frustration, helplessness, fear, anxiety and so many more ripped through my mind. I cried and cried. I remember telling my baby that the whole world changed today and he's too little to understand. I knew that he, like the rest of us, wouldn't truly understand this day's impact for many years to come.

After five years, I thought that I had run out of tears for those lost on 9/11/2001 and what that day did to our country. I was wrong. While researching for and putting together this tribute, I read and watched tribute after tribute and read survivor stories and stories of heroism, and I have shed what seems like at least 2996 more tears.

I am honored to pay tribute to Shawn and the rest of the 2996.

I wasn't able to find very much information about Shawn on-line but what I did find told me that Shawn E. Powell was a firefighter with a soft touch. An exceptional man of courage and dedication, he worked at Engine Company 207 in downtown Brooklyn. Whether he was there, at home in Crown Heights, or camping with his 5 year-old son, Joshua, he had a way of lifting spirits. "If there wasn't any fun going on, he would find a way," said Matthew Dwyer, a fellow firefighter. "With Shawn, the glass was half full, never half empty."

Firefighter Powell brought unusual skills to the Fire Department. An artist and woodcarver, he had built props and volunteered at several New York City theaters, including the Apollo Theater, and studied architecture at New York Technical College.

At Engine Company 207 - where the slogan is "The House of Misfit Toys" because of the company's specialized, somewhat bizarre-looking fire-fighting equipment, Mr. Powell made the point in comic relief with a poster that includes a square-wheeled fire engine.

Firefighter Powell and his wife, Jean, who had been teenage sweethearts in Brooklyn, married in 1989. Their son, Joshua, was 5 years old when his father was taken from him. Theirs has been a long road back to normalcy, if that's what you can call it without Shawn.

I hope that Jean and Joshua Powell have found peace and solace, and that Jean is doing everything she can to assure that Joshua remembers what an exceptional man his father was (as I know she is). He was, and still is, a hero.

Another beautiful tribute to all of the FDNY firefighters can be found here.

Thank you, Shawn, for making the ultimate sacrifice to help others. You will not be forgotten.

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