My name is Lieutenant Thomas Woods. I am a New York City firefighter. Most all of you now know what happened on September 11, 2001. It was a very difficult time for us, as well as for all of you. The emergency workers were at Ground Zero for a very long time (over a year). We all worked very, very hard.

I am writing this letter to say thank you to each and every one of you. Thank you to all of the students and teachers for the many wonderful things you did for the families and firefighters who were affected by the events of 9/11. A few examples include fundraisers such as car washes, bake sales, and lemonade stands. Some of you made care packages that included gloves, candy, pictures, and wonderful notes to encourage us. We were even sent piggy banks to help the families.

We also received letters. Boy, did we receive letters! My firehouse counted tens of thousands of letters that were mailed to us. The mail carrier delivered them in cartons! They came from New York and Florida, Missouri and Ohio, California and Hawaii, and all of the towns of the U.S.A. Letters even came to us from countries around the world, such as Canada and Ireland, England and Belgium, Italy and Australia. At night, the firefighters would sit and read them. The letters were then hung up in the firehouse.

All of your generosity helped us so much. Our spirits were lifted because of you! We were then stronger to go and do our work. Thank you for all of your thoughtfulness!

I hope this letter lifts your spirits and makes you stronger. Stronger to do all the things you may find difficult to do. We have mottos that we use in the Fire Department. We have used them for 100 years before 9/11, and even more so after 9/11. They are: "Step up," and "Do the right thing." "Step up" means learn to do your work without having to be asked, and to do a little extra while you're doing it. "Do the right thing" means regardless of what's going on around you, make sure you always make the right choice. Feel free to use these mottos in your lives and schools.

The Fire Department couldn't return a letter to each one of you because there were over a million letters sent to all of the stations. We would get writer's cramp! But we did want you to know how much you mean to us, and how thankful we are for everything you have done for us!

As our President, George W. Bush, ends his speeches, "May God bless you and may God bless America."

Sincerely yours,

Lt. Thomas Woods
New York City Fire Department