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9/11 remembrances remain poignant 14 years later

September 14, 2015 By Albin Lohr-Jones Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Firefighters and families of the fallen firefighters leave Assumption Church at the conclusion of the Remembrance Mass.
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Anniversaries of all types, including public days of mourning, tend to be most fervently acknowledged in five-year or 10-year increments — intervals of time sufficient to assess the progress achieved and changes accomplished since the precipitating occasion. But for those immediately impacted by an event like the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, there is little of any hiatus from bereavement. So, on this 14th anniversary of 9/11, families and friends of those lost gathered again citywide to console, publicly remember and to mourn anew. 

In the shadows of the ever-expanding new World Trade Center, the focal point for these commemorations is Ground Zero. With the public restricted from the site, family members of the departed gathered to commemorate the event in a sparse, but no-less meaningful ceremony. Devoid of pomp with the exception of the singing of the National Anthem and display of a flag from the World Trade Center, the ceremony unfolded in an elegant tripartite structure: the reading of names of the dead, the tolling of a single bell and a moment of silence choreographed to the exact time of one of the planes striking the towers or towers collapsing.  

With incessant debate over national security since the towers fell, 9/11 is and will continue to be a topic of political quibbling for generations to come. The ceremony fortunately carves out a time to quell that conversation. Though politicians were abundantly present for the ceremony — Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his two predecessors, along with federal and state elected officials attended —  they stood on the sidelines far from the stage as mute observers.   

Around the city, far from the heavy security and media at Ground Zero, commemorations were held at firehouses, police precincts and at public gatherings in communities stricken heavily by the attack. On Middagh Street, a stone’s throw from the Brooklyn Bridge, the memory of eight firefighters from Engine 205/Ladder 118 who died at the World Trade Center was observed.

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Gathering at the entrance of the Middagh Street Firehouse, firefighters gathered in full dress uniform. At each of the synchronized citywide moments of silence announced via radio transmitter inside the house, the company members stood at attention, hats removed in honor of their comrades, fellow servicemen and women around the city and the thousands of civilian victims. Eight firefighters from E 205/L 118 were lost on 9/11: Capt. Martin Egan, Lt. Robert Regan, Lt. Robert Wallace, FF Joseph Agnello, FF Vernon Cherry, FF Scott Davidson, FF Leon Smith, and FF Peter Vega. 

At around 10:45 a.m., the Church of the Assumption on Cranberry Street, whose rectory stands a few two doors away from the firehouse, held its annual Remembrance Mass to mark the occasion. As Father Edward Doran read the names of each of the men from E 205/ L 118 who died, firefighters processed down the church’s main aisle, carrying candles that were placed at the foot of the altar. A ninth candle was offered in memory of Father Mychal Judge, an FDNY Chaplain who perished while administering last rites to a victim at Ground Zero.    

As Sept. 11 drew to a close, the Tribute in Light’s twin beams shone skyward from Ground Zero, visible from even the most remote of locations throughout the city. One can only hope that the day’s commemorations offered some solace to those who lost loved ones in the attacks, and that for them another year of healing has begun. 

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