“I am greatly troubled by the belief of some that we should move on,” said Kenneth Rudzewick, president of Maspeth Federal, which organizes the event at Maspeth Memorial Square just steps form the firehouse. “When we disregard history, we are doomed to repeat it.”
Wednesday's event featured a huge turnout of over 100 firefighters, residents, elected officials and community leaders, all of whom gathered to pay their respects to the 19 firefighters who lost their lives that day, along with the six Maspeth residents who perished in the attacks.
Those who died included:
• Hazmat 1 - Firefighter Dennis Carey, Lieutenant John Crisci, Firefighter Martin Demeo, Battalion Chief John Fanning, Firefighter Thomas Gardner, Firefighter John Giordano, Firefighter Jonathan Hohmann, Captain Thomas Moody, Firefighter Dennis Scauso, Firefighter Kevin Smith and Captain Patrick Water.
• Squad 288 - Firefighter Peter Brennan, Lieutenant Ronnie Gies, Firefighter Joseph Hunter, Firefighter Jonathan Ielpi, Lieutenant Ronald Kerwin, Firefighter Adam Rand, Firefighter Brian Sweeney and Firefighter Timothy Welty.
• Maspeth Residents - Firefighter Michael Cawley, Cono Gallo, Jennifer Mazzotta, Lieutenant Kenneth Phelan, Firefighter Christopher Pickford and Firefighter Michael Weinberg.
Each life was represented by a small American flag, which was placed in front of the September 11 memorial – a piece of steel from the World Trade Center alongside the engraved names of those who died.
“We will never forget those lost loved ones as we recall the memories, the glares of sirens, the rush of rescue vehicles as the bravest so sought to arrive at the World Trade Center as quickly as possible,” said Monsignor Peter Zendzian, pastor of St. Matthias Church. “They knew that on that beautiful September morning that the vocation to save others might demand of them to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
In the immediate wake of the attacks, the community banded around the first responders. Assemblywoman Marge Markey recalls the night of the attacks when everyone went down and waited outside the firehouse to see if their loved ones would come home or not.
“I just want to remember 9/11 and that evening and how our community came together in front of that firehouse,” she said. “We lost so many wonderful young men in a tragic situation. We met there that night for the families who were coming to the firehouse to see if their loved ones were there or if they were not. It was a terrible, terrible evening.”
Markey's sentiment though, of remembrance, is the reason Maspeth Federal hosts the ceremony every year, even as the number of remembrance events dwindles
“Right now, 14 years later, what I am facing is a number of people in my district and around saying 'we need to move on, it was 14 years ago,'” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “If you notice, as I have noticed, there's less time taken to reflect on 9/11 and less memorials. That's why we're so thankful for this one.”