NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880/CBS 2) — Mothers who grieve their sons, wives who miss their husbands, and children who never knew their fathers gathered Friday to honor firefighters who died on 9/11.
Tears flowed at the Engine 54 firehouse, also known as the “Pride of Midtown,” on Eighth Avenue at 48th Street, reports CBS 2’s Dana Tyler.
Family members of the 15 firefighters who died on September 11, on-duty from Engine 54, Ladder 4 and Battalion 9, gathered for a special honor. Individual portraits were presented by a nonprofit organization called “Hero Portraits Incorporated.”
The off-duty battalion commander that day remembers his fallen comrades.
“They did not die in vain,” retired Battalion Chief Joseph Nardone said. “They gave hope to those poor souls who were trapped above the flames, if just for a few minutes.”
Joseph Angelini’s family looks back with pain, but great pride.
“He was down at the south tower helping people out of the elevators,” Donna Angelini said. “We met one of the women helped out of the shaft. They made a human chain…and they brought her up.”
Angelini said she and her three children would not be at Ground Zero Saturday for the anniversary ceremony because the memories were just too agonizing.
“Bagpipes just bring us all back to the funerals and being at the firehouse, we feel so close to him, but yet he’s gone,” Angelini said, “It’s still just as painful day after day.”
Angelini was speechless as she saw her children bringing out the portrait of their father.
“I had no words, I just couldn’t breathe,” Angelini told 1010 WINS Senior Correspondent Stan Brooks. “It’s the most amazing picture I’ve ever seen. That is my husband.”
The mother of firefighter Lenny Regaglia is deeply grateful for Friday’s honor.
“We all miss him. It breaks our heart every day that he’s not with us,” Maureen Regaglia said. “I wish he was here. He’s our hero.”
Hero Portraits also presented a group portrait of the 15 firefighters to hang at the firehouse that they courageously left for the last time on September 11.
Denise Lynch, who lost her husband Michael on that day, says the portrait truly captures the essence of her husband.
“He was kind, he was brave, he always put other people first,” Denise Lynch said. “He told me that morning, ‘I’ve got to go,’ and I knew what he meant. I’m very proud of him.”
It was also an emotional moment for Lynch, who saw her sons Michael and Jack carrying out the portrait of their father.
“They did a beautiful job today…it’s hard, it doesn’t get easier nine years later,” Lynch said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to see all the guys together. They were ordinary guys that did the best they could that day, and we’re proud of them.”
Everyone who was on duty at the “Pride of Midtown” on September 11 perished that day.