Brenda Berkman spent 25 years as a firefighter and fire officer for the New York City Fire Department. She was one of the first women to be accepted into the FDNY, after suing the city with several other women in the 1970s in order to be allowed to join. She was promoted to captain in 2002, and retired in 2006 to pursue art. Captain Berkman was one of the first on the scene of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks. This excerpt is from a speech she gave shortly afterward in November, at the National Women's Law Center's 2001 Awards Dinner.