Pride in Port: A Legacy
The continuation of a legacy has always been very important to me, particularly continuing the legacy that my family has created within the Port Washington Fire Department. Starting with my grandfather, John “Jay” Alexander, joining the Protection Engine Company, with my father’s cousins, John and Bobby Gennusa, following shortly after. Next, my father, Donald Alexander, became a member, and quickly rose to the office of Captain within the company. My mother, a former firefighter from Glenwood, joined the Fire Medics Company after meeting my father in the department. Each of those names, each of those family members, all passed down a legacy, from one person to another, and have placed it in my hands today.
I was always destined to follow the legacies of those before me. Despite being named after my grandfather, John Alexander, I was also named after my father’s aforementioned cousin, John Gennusa. John passed away due to health complications while in the prime of his life, and my parents saw it fit to bestow his name upon me in his honor. John’s legacy, however, was one that was very hard for me to uphold. I wasn’t a firefighter, I didn’t have children, and I had no athletic ability. I didn’t play softball for the PWFD, as he did for many years. My father joined the team after John’s death and took on his number, 77, for his jersey. One of my brothers took on 77 for his baseball number, the other taking it on for lacrosse. I never had the necessity to have a “number,” which discouraged me: how could I possibly make him proud if I couldn’t properly follow his legacy?
In April 2019, I was sworn in as the 6th member of my family to join the Port Washington Fire Department. My photo is on the wall with that of my grandfather, my father, and my cousins. Finally, I was following John’s legacy by joining the same company that he, and all of my other family members had joined. The next day, we looked at the roster for Protection. Listed was every single active member in the company. My name, placed last on the list, as I was the newest member, came in at number 77.
My Pride in Port is passed down like a legacy. The pride that my family has in serving the community cannot be satisfied by a parade or a plaque, or even by uproarious applause. Our pride comes from the members of the Port Washington Fire Department, the members of our family, that have served before us. We pass it down to each new member of the department, the Pride in Port that exists when serving your community with your family behind you the whole time.