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Great Neck Man Honors Firefighter Son Lost In September 11th Attacks

9/11 Memorial - New York, NY (file / credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

9/11 Memorial (credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — It has been eleven years since the September 11 attacks and for some families the wounds still haven’t healed.

Lee Ielpi, a retired firefighter from Great Neck, lost his son Jonathan on 9/11. Jonathan was also a firefighter and rushed to the World Trade Center to help save lives.

1010 WINS Reporter Stan Brooks spoke with Lee Ielpi…

Jonathan never made it home that day and Lee took it upon himself to to join the rescue effort at Ground Zero. After three weeks the rescue effort was turned into a recovery operation. Lee spent eight months working hands on to help recover the bodies of those who were lost in the attacks.

Lee told 1010 WINS reporter Stan Brooks that he eventually found his son’s body.

“We found Jonathan, what they consider a whole body, we found his helmet a week or so after that,” he said.

In the years since 9/11 Lee has helped run the Visitor’s Center at the National September 11 Memorial which allows him to remain close to his son even after he gave his life to save others.

“I’m here every day, so I talk about my son every day, and I think about him every day. In a way my son is alive in many people,” he said.

And while Ielpi continues to mourn his son’s death, he said that his son died doing the thing that he loved the most.

“My son came here, he could not wait to get here,” he said, “My son died doing what he loved to do, so for me it makes it just a little bit easier knowing that.”

Part of the mission of the memorial is to “Recognize the endurance of those who survived,” and “the courage of those who risked their lives to save others.” More information about the memorial and the visitor’s center can be found here.

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