Thursday, Dec. 28 marks a year since New Jersey State Trooper, Lt. Bill Fearon died from cancer related to his actions as a first responder at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Lt. Fearon was well respected by his peers and the community serving as a State Trooper since 1994. Beyond the heartache and tragedy of leaving behind a wife and three children is the loss of a hero who spent his entire career standing up for his community and his brothers and sisters in the New Jersey State Police. Every Friday we honor a hero from New Jersey Law Enforcement who is getting up every day to put their own health and safety on the line to protect and serve others. Lt. Fearon is one of those heroes taken too soon.

It is tragic and sad to lose a husband and a father regardless of what the profession they practice. But losing a man who spent his life as a cornerstone of service to family and community is especially tragic. Yet, beyond the sadness of his loss stands a legacy worth celebrating.

He leaves the legacy of a strong, courageous man who faced his own mortality with determination and smiles.

He leaves the legacy of a man who never gave up and thought more about the people around him who would suffer his loss and didn't spiral into self pity.

Courage, strength, brotherhood, service. These are all qualities that seem to get lost in the discussion of what constitutes a hero. So many people today talk about sensitivity and the avoidance of conflict and risk.

Lt. Bill Fearon embraced it.

Lost in so many conversations today are some of the basic qualities that make up a man with purpose. A man who possessed the bravery of so many fallen heroes in law enforcement and the military.

Lt. Bill Fearon was one of those men.

It's clear from his reaction to his diagnosis and his ability to rise up and face his own end he possessed both a knowledge of his own mortality and performed his duties as a Trooper in spite of understanding the risks and danger.

Those are the qualities of a hero. Knowing the risks. Understanding the danger. Going in anyway. Although I can't say I understand fully the pain that his widow and three kids have and must still be experiencing, I can say that they will always have the memory and example of a husband and father who provided a true example of courage, strength and bravery that define the term hero.

Rest in Peace, Lieutenant.

Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea.

More from New Jersey 101.5:

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM