With Saturday’s memorial at Lawton Fire Station No. 5, a sister carries the pride of her brother who perished the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Joined by the ranks of brother firefighters, Kathi Ezzo-Talbott’s heart swelled as the nation’s flag was raised to half-mast. It was to honor her brother, Peter Brennan, as well as all who perished that fateful day.
“I’m the proudest sister you will ever see,” she said. “Yes, I’m extremely proud of him.”
Every year, this long-time Lawtonian joins with the firefighters at the station located at No. 1 NW 53rd. She brings donuts and a warm affection for these first responders.
These responders know her well. She tends a small memorial for Brennan housed at the station. Ezzo-Talbott never forgets. She doesn’t want anyone else to either. That’s the importance in these brief moments taken: to remember.
“I never want to forget, and I don’t want others to forget either,” she said.
With the fire department’s formation in front of the station, Lawton firefighter Drew Young stepped out and played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. The plaintive wail of the instrument cut with emotion.
Young, who has had the role with the department since 2012, knows the importance of being the sound above the silence. It’s something sacred, he said.
“It’s an honor,” he said.
Brennan died as a 30-year-old firefighter for New York City. His sister said he’d always been about serving his community. He joined the Civil Air Patrol at the age of 16 and, as soon as he was allowed at 18, he became a volunteer firefighter. Later, he joined the New York City Police Department and was a police officer at the scene of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured thousands.
With three years on the police force, Brennan then worked as a paramedic before being assigned to Rescue 4 with the New York City Fire Department.
Brennan wasn’t supposed to be working on Sept. 11, 2001, Ezzo-Talbott said. He’d been off work recovering from lung damage suffered while rescuing three of his fellow firefighters from a house fire. He’d been due to receive a medal of honor on Sept. 14, 2001.
But, instead of honors or sitting back, when the time, came, he responded. He was last seen smiling from the truck leaving out to the scene. He was living his dream, Ezzo-Talbott said.
“He loved to save lives,” she said. “My brother could do anything.”
These memories, along with photographs and honors bestowed Brennan are all that’s left. Ezzo-Talbott said he was never recovered from the rubble.
“He was going up and he never came down,” she said. “He was just vaporized.”
For the past 19 years, Ezzo-Talbott has avoided watching the televised news specials about 9/11. She knows its story well enough. It was an annual torture, she said.
“Every year, you’ve got to live through this,” she said. “Every year on 9/11 it’s on again.”
But on this 20th anniversary of one of the worst days in American history, Ezzo-Talbott decided it was time to change that.
“This year, I watched everything,” she said. “I wanted to know all the information.”
Although all her questions will never be answered, Ezzo-Talbott knows one thing for sure: her brother’s spirit lives on in his children. His daughter now works as a paramedic. His son, born the December after Brennan’s death, is attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Service is in their blood.
Ezzo-Talbott said that, although two decades have past, there are some wounds that will never fully mend.
“It’s still the same as it was 20 years ago,” she said. “There is no closure.”