Paul Tegtmeier, husband of Catherine and father of Aric and Andrea, was killed during the collapse of the World Trade Center. He was assigned to Ladder Company 46 in the Bronx. Paul had wanted to be a New York City Firefighter for his entire life. Although he was 41 years old, Paul had only been a NYC firefighter for 18 months, having finally realized his life-long dream.
Paul was a field technician for Verizon before getting the call and had been a volunteer fireman for 20 years. Through the remembrances of those who knew him, I have come to know Paul as a kind and friendly individual who was a member of St. James Church in Hyde Park. He was also a scout, and took those ideals to heart. He has been described as a wonderful husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was known for his cheerfulness and positive attitude.
Through the time that I’ve had to research Paul’s life and get to know him as best that I can, he has become a source of inspiration to me. When I first saw his age, I thought he had been with the FDNY for many years, but when I read his story I was inspired by his unswerving pursuit of his life-long dream.
How many of us have dreams of the things we would like to do, yet can’t or won’t find the time and the incentive to stop thinking and start doing? Do we prepare ourselves for the pursuit of that dream? To we surround ourselves with family and friends who understand and encourage those dreams? Paul Tegtmeier did. For 20 years he waited on his chance and in the meantime, he married a nurse, raised a family, and contributed to his community through his church, volunteer firefighting, and scouting.
We all have reasons to say, “I quit.” I’ve many of my own lately. I’ve had many reasons to stop fighting for my dreams but I think of Paul and Paul wasn’t a quitter. Paul continued on with a smile on his face and a positive attitude in his heart. Bless you, Paul, and your family, as we remember the way you lived, instead of the way you died.
Live your dreams for Paul today and always. It is really the most fitting memorial.