Street renamed in honor of fallen firefighter Michael Behette

May 20, 2014 Editorial Staff
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In the wake of 9/11, Brooklynite and firefighter Michael Behette cut his vacation in the Florida Keys short to be with his comrades at Ground Zero. After months of working, he was diagnosed with cancer, directly related to the dust from the fallen buildings. On September 17, 2012, Behette died at the age of 55.

In recognition of his work and spirit, hundreds gathered at the corner of 85th Street and Fifth Avenue for the street renaming ceremony. The corner was renamed “Firefighter Michael G. Behette 9/11 Memorial Way.”

“I feel sort of an honor to my son for his legacy, his need to be remembered,” said Madeleine Behette, his mother, at the memorial. She stayed strong as she remembered the times that her son would act as a peacemaker.

Behette was states away when he heard about the World Trade Center. Naturally, he tried to find a flight home to New York City but, with no available trains and planes, he rented a car. Almost 15,000 miles away from home, he drove 24 hours straight, while being clocked for driving 90 miles per hour. When he finally got there, he joined others on the pile.

After retiring in 2002, Behette spent the next several years with family. In 2011, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, directly related to the dust and exposure to the air from all those months working on the pile. Over 11 years later, he died.

Following his parents’ footsteps, Behette started out as a police officer. In 1981, he joined the Fire Department of New York and served his community for over 20 years at Ladder 172, Engine 330 in Bensonhurst.

Marianna Randazzo, a friend of Michael’s for over 40 years, is composing a second book about Michael which will include a collection of stories from those who knew him. “He was the type of person who just made you feel you were the most important person and he would whoever he was with, his undivided attention,” she said.

“To put it simply, we renamed pieces of our city because of people who help keep us together, people like firefighter Michael Behette,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile at the dedication, “and so it seems only right that we honor Michael and his enduring legacy by dedicating a part of the city he loves so much in his everlasting memory and what better place to commemorate Michael than right here, down the block from where he grew up and where his mother Madeleine still lives today.”

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