NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Many sons and daughters were just children when the September 11th terror attacks took place.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan caught up with one son who pays tribute to his hero dad every day by following in his firefighter footsteps.
“All our friends of growing up, all their fathers were firemen or cops,” James Dowdell, of Breezy Point, said. “It’s kind of how we grew up in an environment where my father’s a fireman, my uncle’s a fireman.”
The Breezy Point section of Queens is awash with pride and patriotism.
“On a clear night, especially in September, you’ll see the lights right from here. It’s a beautiful tribute,” he said of the Freedom Tower at One World Trade.
When 46-year-old Lt. Kevin Dowdell ran into the South Tower and gave his life for the city he loved, he inspired his son not only to a career, but to a calling.
“I followed in the footsteps of my father. He was a fireman for 21 years. He loved it,” said James Dowdell. “He was dad to me, but that was the environment we grew up in.”
“I just turned 17,” he added. “It was definitely a shock. You say goodbye to your father, said see ya tomorrow, and that was it. The next day, he didn’t come home.”
His father’s remains were never found. But in the rubble, first responders discovered his officer’s tool, known as a halogen.
“It was engraved on it, ‘KDR4,’ for Kevin Dowdell Rescue 4. So we knew it was his,” James Dowdell said.
On Tuesday, Kevin Dowdell will be remembered as part of the Breezy Point 9/11 Memorial, and his son will speak on behalf of the Answer the Call foundation, which supports families of the fallen in the NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority and EMS.
Now with his family growing in Breezy Point, James Dowdell looks to the future.
“I would say that their grandfather was a hardworking guy who loved his family,” he said. “Especially, I want my kid to realize how courageous and how the choices they made that day, which was to go in and help people.”