The intricate sounds of Orozco’s Guitarra and
the beep, beep, from passing automobiles... [+]
The FDNY said he was six months older than their maximum age requirement. He wasn't gaunt, invalid, or haggard. He was a healthy male mesomorph, maybe with a few grays, which is time's gift for hard work done well, but they proudly said to his still visage, hands by his side like a soldier, he was too old to be a New York City Red! That he was a liability when it came to saving lives. That he was no competition to his young coevals. However, was he too old when he served four tours for our freedoms, for this deteriorating country? A country which once held a light to the world, but now struggles to pay its electric bills. Apparently, he is not too old to be still enlisted as an officer of the United States Army, a protector of our freedoms, until 2020, and who's to say not a long time under Trump's command.
Shit! Who has the right to claim he is too old to have a dream and want change in his life, after serving this country, and after years of his own travails? Did he not leaped through the FDNY hoops, aced their exams, showed aged does not make one fit, and did he not even surpass all his coevals, young and those just under the maximum age be part of the 1%? Yet, they rejected him for not fitting in snuggly within their bureaucratic rules. Rules we indirectly let reign. I was to believe if one was to follow the rules for many years and demonstrate their complete understanding of the systems they were, then, given a chance to break these rules and policies into pieces, to rebuild as they saw fit. I was to believe that broken rules lead to new innovations, understanding, and better laws. Aren't Rules meant to be shattered, especially if they do not work? This man, this soldier, has followed them his whole life, through thick muck, and thin Forrest. He didn't ask for time to move the way it did, he did not ask for his misfortunes to contort his life the way it did, yet he made the most of his life to support himself and his loved ones. He sacrificed himself for our freedoms, for our clubs, for our system of rules, for our democratic republic. He fought hard; he was tired; he was injured; he loses his family and friends. Yet, upon their red throne, they sit saying who a New York City Red is the finest amongst men, not realizing they said "no" to a rare American, a Fine American.
Joe Maltiago was not meant to be a New York City Red. That's fine. He had lost before and knew that nothing worth living for will come easy. Yet, without expectation, his lost lead to 100 fire departments across the country sending him applications to be a member of their team, each seeing value in a hard-working man, a FINE AMERICAN.