As the skies cleared from the morning’s storm and wind Saturday, more than 100 people gathered inside Squad 288/Hazmat 1 in Maspeth to honor and remember those from the firehouse killed during the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
“You have to be loyal to pain sometimes to be loyal to the glory that came out of it,” said Kenneth Rudzewick, president of Maspeth Federal Savings and the emcee of the event.
The ceremony, which has been hosted by the bank for the past 11 years, featured prayers, poems and speeches in memory of the 19 firefighters and six Maspeth residents who died when al-Qaeda terrorists flew two passenger airlines into the Twin Towers in Manhattan.
As the names of the dead were read, family members of the victims placed American flags on a ledge near a memorial wall in the firehouse, each flag bearing a name of the dead. Squad 288/Hazmat 1, at 56-29 68th St., had the largest loss of firefighters of any firehouse within the city.
“The firehouse are our neighbors and we’ve been good neighbors since we opened 65 years ago,” said Rudzewick on why the bank hosts the event.
Stephanie, Carol and Madison Gies came out from Merrick, L.I., to remember Firefighter Ronnie Gies, who was with Squad 288.
“I like that there’s somewhere my daughter can come,” said Stephanie Gies, who was Ronnie’s daughter-in-law.
She said her daughter Madison enjoys hearing about and seeing pictures of her grandfather from the other men in the squad.
The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place at the Maspeth Memorial Triangle on 69th Street and Grand Avenue, but was moved inside the firehouse after a storm which created a tornado in Breezy Point, drenched the area in rain and covered it in dark clouds.
But as the event began a half-hour late, the rain stopped and the sky turned blue.
State Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) and City Council members Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) also spoke at the ceremony about the importance of remembering Sept. 11 and the sacrifice the firefighters made.
“In a matter of seconds our whole world changed,” Crowley said. “They attacked our country, but they wanted to break our spirit and we came together.”
Battalion Chief Nicholas Corrado thanked the families, especially those who had brought young children, for coming to the ceremony and keeping alive the memory of how the firefighters gave their lives to save people on 9/11.
“I know that it’s not easy to be here, but you come,” Corrado said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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