NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks is less than a week away. Every year, the Sunday before is a day to remember a special member of New York City’s Bravest whose life was lost on that terrible day.
“This is a great way to start a difficult week…” Steven McDonald, co-founder of the remembrance walk, said.
For the eighth year in a row, the Sunday before September 11 was a day to remember the first recorded victim of the attacks on that fateful day.
Father Mychal Judge was the department chaplain. When the towers were struck, he raced to the scene to do what he could to help, but he was struck by falling debris from the towers – and the healer became the victim.
On Sunday, hundreds honored his bravery and his dedication to the fire department.
“We do this to remember not only Mychal Judge, who was the first casualty that day, but to remember those who were fallen,” co-founder John Bates said.
The walk’s co-founder, Detective Steven McDonald, became close to Father Judge nearly 20 years ago after he was shot in the line of duty.
After a service at St. Francis of Assisi, participants followed Father Judge’s route down to Ground Zero, stopping at firehouses along the way to remember all of those lost.
“A lot of family members don’t want to be here on 9/11, but this is good for them because they get to be here today,” retired firefighter Bill Schillinger said.
The procession ended at St. Peter’s Church, where Father Judge’s body was taken after he was struck.
A quote on t-shirts worn by several at the walk may best encompass what Father Judge meant to the FDNY and New York City: “No matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea what God is calling you to do. But God needs you, he needs me, he needs all of us.”