Church Service Remembers FDNY Bravest Killed

Firefighters lined the street outside St. Patrick's Cathedral on Saturday afternoon prior to a service held inside the church for the families of the 343 members of the FDNY who died on 9/11. 9/11 Page

It was a symbol of unity of the fire service as a whole as firefighters from Boston, Los Angeles and other cities across the country joined New York's bravest as they stood in honor of their fallen brothers.

Battalion Chief John Gleason -- a 32-year veteran who worked at Engine 96, Ladder 54 in the Bronx during the attacks -- said the distances some traveled to pay their respects is a testament to the strength of the bond that firefighters share.

"It's very gratifying to see the turnout," he said. "It's a great tribute to the members who lost their lives and their families."

This being a milestone anniversary, he said it just feels different than past years.

"I think that with this year being the tenth, it's a little more intense. The memories are still very vivid."

Capt. Tom Smyth, a 18-year veteran who works out of Engine 97 in the Bronx, said seeing all of the people who made it out makes him proud.

"Seeing everyone here makes you feel like people didn't forget."

He said the department has changed since 9/11 in many ways, but that the veterans who remained and the new firefighters who joined have made the effort to carry on the memory of those who died.

"I think we've coped fairly well. We had an influx of younger members who stepped up to the plate," he said. "The men left took matters into their hands to help train those members."

Firefighter Philip Rivera from Engine 162 was one of those young men Smyth is referring to. The five-year veteran is only 28 years old and was hired by the FDNY after spending six years serving his country as a Marine.

"For a young guy like me on the job, it's my responsibility to learn about these guys as much as I can so I can follow in their footsteps."

He said that although he joined five years following the attacks, it's something that sticks with all firefighters with the department.

"Every firehouse you go to has something that reminds you of that day," he said. "We deal with it every day because there are still guys getting sick. It's a constant reminder."

Inside the cathedral, those who died were remembered through speeches by family members and by FDNY officials.

"It was loss, not only for the city, but for the country," Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said. "The FDNY has not just soldiered on, it's climbed to new heights."

Chief of Department Edward Kilduff said the department is doing everything it can to remember those who died.

"Their memories motivate us daily to be stronger, smarter and safer," he said. "Moving forward, it will always be our duty to make the 343 firefighters and their families proud of the FDNY."