As a kid, I got to play with fire. Now my mother is probably going to hate this, but here goes. I had a Tonka fire truck. It was my favorite toy. If you hooked it up to a garden hose, the water would come out of the hoses on the truck. I would put on my red plastic fire hat, and my mother would build small houses out of shoeboxes, set them on fire, and stand by while I put them out.
Needless to say, I was the subject of much admiration and jealousy. I'm not advocating this, of course, but I loved it. I was four or five at the time. I tell this by way of saying that for some reason, kids, especially little boys, all seem to fall in love with the idea of being a fire fighter at some point. I don't know what it is, the hats, the dogs, riding in the trucks with the lights and sirens, whatever is it, that just seems to be the coolest job anyone could have.
But I don't remember thinking much about what they actually did. Once they arrived at a fire, that all became sort of sketchy. Of course, as adults, we have a much better idea. I've been in a high rise fire. I have covered plenty of forest fires, and an out-of-control blaze can be terrifying. But I still don't think that I have any idea of what it's really like for them to go into a burning building.
Now for the most part, journalists love firefighters too. Contrary to law enforcement officers who are always worried about what they say, firefighters, in my experience, are open, and are good interviews. And, if you have to hang out with them for a while, they're usually good cooks. But I just don't think we can ever understand what they go through on a daily basis.
And so tonight we're going to let them tell you. Last Father's Day, what started out as a routine call in New York turned into a tragedy. A hardware store on fire exploded, and three firefighters were killed. The men from their units will tell the story of that fire, and you'll hear the radio calls, and the 911 calls, from that incident. Will we know what it's like to be a firefighter after this? No, but I think we'll all respect them more. True courage, not the flashy kind, is rare and is something to be honored.
Now a note about yesterday. First, all of you who wrote in to say that my comment about it being an "easy call" to switch from Jack Lemmon to the story of Milosevic was insensitive — you're right. It was a poor choice of words. I didn't mean to minimize the impact Jack Lemmon had on this country. What I was trying to say was that when the Milosevic story broke, that seemed to be the right choice, and I made that decision pretty quickly. A lot of you wrote in to say that we should have done the Lemmon broadcast anyway, and come back to Milosevic later. But we are conditioned, rightly or wrongly, to turn to the breaking story, to air it the day it happens. And all of us were looking forward to doing the broadcast on Jack Lemmon as well. So what do we do now? I've written before about how we think we need a peg in order to do a story. It would seem strange to us to come back tonight with the Lemmon broadcast. So we have a plan. News permitting, and assuming that the memorial service is next week, we will come back that day to the program that we had started on. But I appreciate all of the comments, good or bad. And I want to remind all of you about the Nightline message board, where you can talk to each other and to us.
So I hope that you'll join us tonight, it really is a strong story. Hopefully we'll air our tribute to Jack Lemmon next week, and remember, a rebroadcast of the Eva Cassidy broadcast next Wednesday, July 4.
And Mom, I know you're reading this, I hope I didn't get you in trouble about the fire thing. I loved it.
Leroy Sievers is executive producer for Nightline.