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Sunday, September 10


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Project 2996 is the memorial to victims of the 9-11 tragedy five years ago put together by bloggers across the nation. When I signed up to be a part of this project, I thought it was a good idea and a nice thing for people of the blog community to do. I had no idea I’d be so touched again throughout my research on my assigned victim.

I live clear out on the West Coast, and though September 11, 2001 struck us all straight to the heart, it was a bit surreal for those of us not living anywhere close to the incidents. In participating in Project 2996, the events of that day have been brought closer to me, and I am again reminded of the horrific tragedy bestowed upon this nation that day.

Following is my personal tribute to a great man and a hero of our country. Please read the story of Thomas Foley and help me honor his memory on this 5th anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy.

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THOMAS FOLEY was only 32 years old. He was a New York City Firefighter with Rescue Company 3 in the Bronx. He was among the first rescue workers to arrive at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

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He was killed when one of the towers collapsed. Foley was a former volunteer fireman for the West Nyack Fire Department. He joined the New York Fire Department in 1990. He was first stationed at Squad 41 in the Bronx before joining Rescue Company 3. Thomas Foley was survived by his brother Daniel (also a firefighter), and sister-in-law Carrie Benedict Foley; his parents Thomas J. and Patricia Parchen Foley; his sister Joanne and brother-in-law K.C. Gross; and was an uncle to Casey, McKenna and Cody Gross. He was laid to rest on September 29th, 2001 after a funeral mass held at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Nanuet.

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I feel blessed to have been assigned Tommy as a subject for my 9-11 tribute. It was so evident to me while researching many tribute sites, that everyone loved Tommy a lot, and he was a joy to have as a friend or family member. He was a very handsome man and the life of any event he attended. Mr. Foley had a vast array of interests that included bull riding and hunting. He loved the outdoors in any capacity, and enjoyed his time there. He had a “special mountain” close to his home that he loved to climb upon and reflect down below on his community and family. He turned his German shorthaired pointer Maggie into a field-trial champion. Thomas Foley was a well known firefighter, and his looks landed him some bit acting parts on “Third Watch”, and “The Sopranos”. People Magazine named Tom Foley as one of their most eligible bachelors of the year in the July 14, 2000 edition of People Magazine. People’s managing editor Carol Wallace stated that Foley’s shirtless photo was one of the most popular photos in that issue. He was also a “Firefighting Hunk” in the yearly firefighter’s calendar that raised money for charity.

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Thomas Foley was a decorated firefighter. He was brave and unselfish. Two summers prior to 9-11, he was decorated for rescuing construction workers dangling from a broken scaffold 12 stories above the street. “Don’t worry,” he told one of them, “You’ll be going home to your family tonight.” While doing his part to save a nation, Tom did not get to return home to his family after the night of September 11th. Brother Daniel Foley described a man who was both his brother and role model. Daniel looked up to Thomas, and became a firefighter himself. He remembered fondly how their relationship had blossomed with age, and with all the things they planned to do together. Though it took 10 days of searching the rubble, Daniel said he felt blessed that he could keep his promise he made to his parents – to bring Thomas home. “Tommy died doing exactly what he loved to do,” Daniel Foley said. “So celebrate the time he was with us, and don’t dwell on a life cut short by tragedy.” Rev. Tom McGrath, a family friend cited this at Thomas Foley’s funeral mass, “We all know what a big, strong, handsome young man he was. Today, as painful as this is for us, this is Tommy’s hour of glory. God is looking at Tommy with a smile on his face saying, ‘Well done son.’ ” New York City Deputy Mayor Bob Harding attended Foley’s funeral mass on behalf of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Harding said, “The tragedy of Sept. 11 made Foley an American Patriot. The City of New York will never forget, the United States will never forget, we will never forget.” I think it’s fitting to print here also that brother Daniel Foley (photo below) remains a New York fireman, and was himself decorated for a job well done in THIS STORY.

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Thomas Foley's Brother Daniel Foley
Thomas Foley, I will never forget you either. Now that I’ve studied you and your dedication to a city you loved, and people you died to save, I will forever think of the name Thomas Foley whenever I am reminded of September 11, 2001. I light a candle for you below, and burn for you an eternal fire. It has been my honor to dedicate my blog to you today and tomorrow on the 5th anniversary of the fall of the World Trade Center towers. I will leave my readers with a poem written by a neighbor just for you on that tragic day. Rest in peace Brother, THANK YOU for your service to our country.

“There is the most gentle breeze blowing here beneath the shadow of the snowy peaks.

The sun peeks out hazily, warming my back.

The soft songs of the birds seem to mock my emotions.

No time for tears or sorrow, or anything anymore.

Time has no meaning now.

Minutes merge into days…into months…into years.

I have no direction, no desire to fill the seconds that tick by.

Just the mountains and I remain…standing still as sentinels over the winding roads that lead far away from here.

I have no reason to move on.

You left this morning forever…”

Below are links to various tribute pages dedicated to Thomas Foley, 32 of West Nyack, New York…

GOOGLE SEARCH - Thomas Foley
CNN Memorial Page 2001

Legacy.com Tribute With Touching Guest Book

Sept. 11 Victims.com Tribute Page

People Magazine Mention

Thomas Foley Obituary

Fire Fighting Hunks

Foley Firefighter Calendar