Tripp Zanetis ‘Was Supposed to Be the First Gay President’

As the FDNY mourned three of its own this Holy Week, firefighters felt as if they were back in the dark days after 9/11—and recalled the unity America felt just after the attack.

The FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums played “America” as eight white-gloved firefighters carried the flag-draped coffin under the marble arch at Washington Square Park that commemorates the nation’s first president.

“Detail, hand salute!” a voice called out.

The ranks of firefighters in navy dress blues were joined by figures in the lighter blue of the Air Force in saluting the mortal remains of Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis on Thursday morning. Along with being an uncommonly brave firefighter he had been an uncommonly brave combat rescue helicopter pilot in the Air National Guard. He and six fellow airmen had died on March 15, when their helicopter went down in Iraq.

He had also graduated with highest honors in political science from New York University and with equal distinction from Stanford Law School. He was invariably well prepared and hyper focused in all he did and he was as widely respected as he was loved. Many of his many, many friends ranging everywhere in this fractured country, from Vice President Pence’s home state to the academic realm to the legal world to the FDNY to the military hoped he would go on into politics.

“Every single person I ever asked or ever known about Tripp would have run to campaign for him,” FDNY Lt. Pete Sapienza would later say.

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