MANHATTAN – On the Upper East Side today, a pair of heartfelt, poignant ceremonies remembering the fallen that day and in the years after from 9/11-related illnesses— the name for a variety of cancers that became a poison pill left for the brave first responders who were told by the Environmental Protection Agency that the air filled with dangerous construction material particles was safe to breathe.
Saturday marks the twentieth September 11th since that day in 2001 when a horrific terror attack shook American society and changed our way of life forever. The collective trauma also strengthened our city’s resolve— tightening our community in face seemingly insurmountable adversity— and showing a generation of youngsters what it meant to truly be New York Tough.
The UES was one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the city, with just three zip codes accounting for 87 of the 2,753 men and women killed in the terror attack.
At Carl Schurz Park along the East River, a group of neighbors gathered on the John Finley walk where Activist/Attorney Howard Teich and Democratic City Council District 5 Nominee Julie Menin led the crowd in a sunrise ceremony paying tribute to the thousands of lives lost and the heroism of New York’s first responders.
Firefighters from houses here on the Upper East Side also suffered heartbreaking losses— eleven of the 343 FDNY members killed that hellish day came from just two UES firehouses.
The Yorkville 9, as they’re known, were nine firefighters from Engine 22/Ladder 13/Battalion 10 on East 85th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues.
Firefighters Thomas Casoria, Michael Elferis, Martin McWilliams, Thomas Hetzel, Dennis McHugh, Thomas Sabella, Gregory Stajk, Captain Walter Hynes and Fire Marshall Vincent Kane all perished that day— a plaque outside their Yorkville firehouse honors the men and bears the quote ‘there was a time when the world asked ordinary men to do extraordinary things.’
These men were extraordinary for their heroism in the face of Evil.
This morning, officers from the NYPD’s 19th Precinct— serving the Upper East Side— stood shoulder to shoulder with the FDNY’s Engine 39/Ladder 16 to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on this day twenty years ago— including two of Ladder 16’s own, Lt. Raymond Murphy and firefighter Robert Curatolo.
During the solemn remembrance on East 67th Street, the ‘Broadway Carolers’— a quartet of professional singers who typically sing Christmas carols— delivered a moving rendition of the national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, to the our first responders who stood in salute of their fallen comrades.
An honor to have the Broadway Carolers with us here today—singing our National Anthem. 🇺🇸— NYPD 19th Precinct (@NYPD19Pct) September 11, 2021
Thank you for being with us to remember the fallen. @RenaeBakerNYC @CreditRoosevelt #BrightInSong pic.twitter.com/GmbCpvkVAI
In memory of members of New York’s Finest whose tours of duty ended that day, the names of the 23 New York City Police Officers killed in the terror attack were read aloud— making good on the promise made in 2001 to never forget.
We will now read the names of our members of the NYPD killed in the line of duty on September 11, 2001. pic.twitter.com/aacWXI4RYF— NYPD 19th Precinct (@NYPD19Pct) September 11, 2021
Today, we remember.