Eleven years after the worst terrorist attack in New York, Bronxites paused this week to never forget.
On a bright, crisp September morn similar to that September 11th, dozens shuttled to a tree grove on Tuesday at Jacobi Medical Center.
There they paid respects for the 156 Bronxites who died as a result of a terrorist strike that scarred the nation’s spirit, but did not break it. Mourners, Jacobi staff and elected officials gathered at the 9/11 Memorial Garden, 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.
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 of Morris Park attended the Jacobi Hospital ceremony for the first time.
A teary-eyed, Ruddle re-lived the terrible day her easygoing 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.
Borough President Ruben 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, who held a similar ceremony at Lou Gehrig Plaza on Friday, September 15.
There several singers sang hymns while the names of all Bronx residents who died on 9/11 were read.
Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383