Eleven years after the worst terrorist attack in New York, Bronxites are pausing this week to never forget.
They will gather on the steps of Borough Hall tomorrow for a solemn gathering that pays respects to 156 Bronxites who died on a day that scarred the nation’s soul but did not break its spirit.
“A Day of Remembrance” is set for noon on Friday, September 14, hosted by Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Supreme Court of Bronx County.
Several singers will lend their voices while the names of the Bronxites who died on 9/11 will be read.
The event caps a week of ceremonies honoring the men and women who perished on that historical day.
At a ceremony on Tuesday’s anniversary of the attacks, dozens shuttled to a tree grove at Jacobi Medical Center.
Mourners, Jacobi staff and elected officials gathered at the 9/11 Memorial Garden there, a circular shrine with two square plaques symbolizing the imprints of Ground Zero.
Each plaque bears the names of 156 people who died in the destruction of 9/11.
Diaz Jr. recalled his close friend Darryl “Pop” McKinney, one of nearly 3000 victims, with whom he often played basketball in Soundview Park in the 90s.
McKinney went on to become a success story, working in the financial district.
“We need to not just mourn but celebrate the lives lost,” said Diaz.
A NY Maritime College honor guard opened the solemn ceremony. A woman quietly wept. There was not one smiling face.
Members from the hospital’s community advisory board read an inspirational poem entitled “One”, reemphasizing a theme of unity stretching back the moment a jetliner hit the first World Trade Center tower.
“As the ash fell, we became one color,” read Al D’Angelo.
Deidre Ruddle attended the Jacobi Hospital ceremony for the first time.
A teary-eyed Deidre Ruddle of Morris Park re-lived the terrible day her easy going younger brother David, a union carpenter, perished on the upper floors of Two World Trade Center.
“When the building collapsed it was like I ran into a wall,” said Ruddle, who spent days riding past her brother’s parked car near a train station in Manhattan hoping he would get there.
“My brother’s remains – not even a tooth – have never been found.”
Among the first responders paying respects was 49th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Vic DiPierro, who rushed with his fellow officers to Lower Manhattan eleven years ago.
“On September 11th, I go through each and every minute every year as if it were year one,” said DiPierro, who’s still reminded of 9/11 the moment a plane passes by.
DiPierro spent months at the World Trade Center site, sifting through The Pile, working with the Bucket Brigade and simply staring at the magnitude of destruction.
His dedication at the site also gave him thyroid cancer in 2005, a disease he eventually defeated.
“There were a lot of people who weren’t so lucky and since died because of September 11,” said DiPierro.
The federal government recently added 50 cancers under the James Zadroga Act, which covers the medical costs for anyone who suffered debilitating effects of Ground Zero.
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383