The annual event – usually held at the 9/11 Memorial at 69th Street and Grand Avenue – was instead held in the nearby Squad 288/HazMat 1 firehouse due to inclement weather.
Squad 288/HazMat 1 lost more members than any other firehouse in the city on that day, losing 19 firefighters. In addition, Maspeth lost six residents in the attacks. All of those names were read aloud on Saturday as a small America flag was placed near two commemorative wreaths.
Joe Iovino, a 34-year veteran of the FDNY, was at the firehouse that morning. His shift was just ending when the first tower was hit. Thinking it was just a small plane, he started to head home.
“None of us had any idea it was a terrorist attack,” he said on Saturday.
When news that the second tower had been hit, he turned around and headed back to the firehouse and arrived at Ground Zero just as the second tower collapsed.
“Walking around the site after the collapse, it was very quiet,” said Iovino. There was just 10 inches of dust everywhere. It’s was like the feeling after a big snowstorm.”
Iovino said as the years go by, the anniversary of 9/11 never gets any easier.
In addition to the reading the names of those who perished, Saturday’s ceremony featured a prayer led by Father Peter Zendzian of Holy Cross Parish, music by Bill and Liz Huisman, and a rendition of the National Anthem by Kathleen Nealon.
Battalion Chief Nicholas Corrado also offered remarks. He recalled seeing a bumper sticker on a fire truck recently that read “Never Forget.”
“That bumper sticker means nothing, but what’s important is a day like today,” he told the crowd of about 50. “Share with your children what these brave men and women did that day.”
An emotional Kenneth Rudzewick of Maspeth Federal Savings, which hosts the ceremony every year, offered some closing remarks. He referenced a recent tragedy in his own life, losing his daughter to cancer just a few short months ago.
“People will tell you ‘time will heal, you have to move on,’ and they all mean well,” he said. “But I’ll never get over it, and I’ll never get over 9/11. You have to be loyal to the pain.”