Watching the events unfold that day was the same for me as it was for millions of viewers worldwide. I sat in stunned silence with tears flowing, unbelieving at first, until reality set in. I prayed, with all my heart, for complete strangers–until now. It is my privilege to introduce to you a remarkable young man–Captain Thomas J. Farino, Engine Company 26, of the New York Fire Department.
On September 11, 2001, 342 fire fighters rushed into the burning inferno others were fleeing in an effort to escape, and they lost their lives that fateful day. Thomas Farino was one of them. His co-workers describe him as having been fearless, confident, and in control. From what I’ve found about him, I believe he never took a thought for his own safety, and if he would have known what was going to happen that day, I don’t think he wouldn’t have hesitated for a second to continue trying to save the lives of others.
Thomas was the youngest of six boys in his family. Following in the footsteps of his father and one of his brothers, he joined the NYPD, and served for two years before becoming a firefighter. He was known for being self-assured and having a great sense of humor. His confidence inspired his co-workers, who felt safe when he was with them.
His wife, Mary, describes him as a rock on which she built her life. For much of their 20 years together, he encouraged her to love him all she wanted, to want him all she wanted, but not to need him so much. He wanted her to derive her strength from someone higher than himself. After the attack, she realized how prophetic his words were to her.
Because of the nature of his job, Captain Farino was able to spend quality time with his children, Jane and James. They loved him, and they miss him. For a time after 911, they would ask their mother if they could go look for him. James even slept with his father’s captain hat. Theirs is a loss many of us will never be able to comprehend. The following is a message his children placed at the periphery of the World Trade Center, which read:
To Mary, Jane and James, I can truly say I am sorry for your loss, for the hurt and the pain. In this short time, with all I’ve come to know about this extraordinary man, I wish with all my heart I could have had the honor of knowing him.
*Photo courtesy of Francisco Daum and Engine Co. 26