Firefighter Joe Scarda was still a teacher on September 10, when he took his medical test for the fire academy. Though he wasn’t yet a firefighter, he was about to face his biggest challenge of all. Scarda, along with his class, was still inside their school when the first tower started to come crumbling down. The faculty brought the kids down to Battery Park to keep them safe, and afterward Scarda headed down to Ground Zero, thinking his certification in first aid and CPR would be helpful. But when he got down there, the area was a ghost town and he was told only emergency personnel were authorized to help.
The experience never left him. And it became even more meaningful when he learned one of his good friends, firefighter Daniel Suhr, died when someone jumping from the towers landed on him. In memory of his fallen friend and to commemorate his transition from teacher to firefighter, Scarda had a memorial tattoo inked by renowned NYC artist Anil Gupta. “He’s a real spiritual guy,” Scarda says of Gupta. “He had a dream the night before of an hourglass breaking through a window. And he tells me he’d be honored to tattoo it on me.” The hourglass stems are made of the numbers 911 and 343, to represent the number of firefighters who perished that day. To complete the tattoo, Scarda had Suhr’s football jersey number tattooed, as well as a picture of a child and a self-portrait of him in his firefighter gear.