Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering Daniel Harlin

Daniel Harlin: father, husband, friend, brother, fire fighter, fallen hero.

On this fifth anniversary of 9/11, bloggers honor the memories of the 2996 killed by terrorists.

I thought this was a nice idea, I signed up. I wasn't really prepared for the impact of seeing the face of the person I was randomly assigned. There he was, an official photo, maybe taken for his New York City Fire Department ID - and like most official ID shots (certainly mine) - cold and impersonal and not very flattering. Still I teared up.

So how can I honor the memory of Daniel Harlin? I didn't know him, his friends or his family. I trawled the net, and I felt even more emotional as I started to find out more about him.


Charles Foulds, a friend, said:

Daniel Edward Harlin looked forward to the start of deer-hunting season all year long. But when he and his friends finally arrived in the Catskill woods in November, he always offered up the best spots to someone else.

"He was a very unselfish guy," said Charles Foulds, who grew up with him and had hunted with him every year since they were both teenagers. "He never took the best for himself."

A quiet man with a contagious laugh, Firefighter Harlin, 41, had worked with Ladder Company 2, Battalion 8 on East 51st Street for more than a decade. But he loved the outdoors so much that he and his wife moved to rural Putnam County 10 years ago, settling in Kent, before having their three children. "He looked forward to taking the boys hunting when they got old enough," said his wife, Deborah.

This year his friends held their annual deer-hunting gathering in a Catskill cabin without him for the first time. "There wasn't a dry eye in the house," Mr. Foulds said.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 19, 2001.

On one of the countless memorial sites where Daniel Harlin is listed, his wife said:

My name is Debbie Harlin. Danny was my husband for nearly 14 years. We actually knew one another for much longer than that. We share 3 beautiful children, ages 10, 8 and 4. The pain we feel today is the same as the pain we felt on 9/11. I don't expect that to ever subside. However, the support, comfort and caring expressed by each of you is extremely touching and means so much to myself and Danny's entire family. Thank you so much for your genuine concern for us all.

Kayla said:
Danny was a great person, dad, husband, coach, and friend. I am very close with his family and every time I would see him he would make me laugh. I wish I could hear his wonderful laugh just one more time. Danny was so great with all kids, they all loved him, and he loved them too. Danny loved his job, friends, and most importantly, his family! It is so hard to belive that Danny is gone, but you know what he really isn't gone. He is probally watching over me as I write this. Thinking of him now makes me happy, but then again sad. I lost a great friend and basically a great family member! I love you Danny! Thanks for everything Tough Guy!


Danny Harlin was a man who made a career of public service. First in the police, then as a fire fighter. He served his fellow New Yorkers daily and then served them in the bravest way, rushing in to save others as hell broke loose around him.

I could only find one other picture of him, still at work, but a photo that shows a little bit more of what his friends and family describe. A guy who would make you smile and laugh. I'll never know you, but I'd bet you'd have made me laugh, too.

This post is about Daniel Harlin, but it's worth mentioning that 342 of his comrades and 3 retired fire fighters also died that day. The New York City government has a section of its website devoted to them.


Paige said...

Wonderful tribute. This project has really touched me. I'm honored to be a part of it.

Sarah Conley said...

I never met Mr. Daniel Harlin… but for inexplicable reasons, I felt something more profound die within me as I watched the Twin Towers fall that day. Later on, my mother says: "I wonder if Danny was there." "Danny who?" I ask.
"You remember the Harlins when we lived in California?" she asked me (I was 7 years old when my family moved from California to Mississippi), but yes…. I did indeed remember these dear people who were Mr. Daniel's parents. In fact, I was barely 2 years old, but can VERY VIVIDLY remember one particular time my family had supper in their house. Mr. Daniel had already grown up by the time his parents moved to California, but believe I did meet one of his younger brothers.

I hope to someday visit the Memorial where the Twin Towers once stood and make a rubbing of his name. His mother had sent a prayer/memorial card and am still very upset at my misplacing it!

God bless his family and I think of them along with all the other families of those lost that day.

Sarah Conley