Over 100 people filed in, filling two bleachers and sides, watching the podium where the William Floyd chorus, band, junior ROTC, members of the fire department, and guest speakers gathered to honor the 343 FDNY first responders lost on the day New York and a nation were attacked.
Bill Ponteo, of the NYPD, provided part of the horrifying timeline of that day: “10:28 a.m., collapse of the North Tower, the North Tower collapses after burning for 102 minutes. More than 1,600 people are killed as a result of the terrorist attack of the North Tower.”
The details of that day were followed by the William Floyd chorus’ rendition of the song, “Amazing Grace.”
Chief William Seely was welcomed to the podium to honor the 3,000-plus people who lost their lives.
“This includes 23 members of the NYPD, 27 members of the Port Authority, five medical personnel, and eight paramedics from private emergency medical services,” he said, as well as those who have succumbed to illnesses related to the attacks in the years following. In addition to the 9/11 attacks, Seely acknowledged the deaths that followed in the subsequent war.
Laid before the crowd were 343 chairs for each person lost, every one holding a rose, red for firefighters, blue for police, green for EMS, and white for civilians.
Next, pastor Ethan Erwin presented a tragic anecdote to the crowd, the story of the death of Fr. Mychal Judge, the first identified victim of 9/11, number 0001. The pastor, who was hit by falling debris while administering last rites, was celebrated days later, at his funeral which was attended by over 3,000 people. His friend Michael Duffy shared these wise words: “We come to bury his body, but not his spirit; we come to bury his voice, but not his message; we come to bury his hands, but not his good works; we come to bury his heart, but not his love, never his love.”
The same is true for the thousands of victims; they may be buried, but the meaning of their lives cannot be forgotten by their loved ones and the world. Chaplin Ed Brooks asked for blessings and healing for the families and friends who lost someone that day.