NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Firefighters from New York, New Orleans and departments nationwide gathered Sunday in this city wrecked by a hurricane and flooding to remember those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks four years ago.
The firefighters helping with the relief effort assembled around a makeshift memorial for their 343 fallen New York comrades. ''Never Forget,'' it read.
Michael Weinlein, assistant chief of operations for the Fire Department of New York, said he was happy to be able to help New Orleans firefighters the way they helped after 9/11.
''Only those who have experienced tragedy can understand the look in the eyes of the New Orleans firefighters when we arrived. We feel your pain and frustration, but I promise you, from personal experience, you will heal,'' he said.
New York's Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said Sunday his firefighters are ''doing what this department does best, and that is saving lives.''
''An entire city has been virtually destroyed ... but four years later, we are in a position to respond with the same generosity of spirit which was shown to us,'' he said at a fire department memorial service in Brooklyn.
At the New Orleans remembrance, the FDNY accepted the gift of a bell from a nearby church whose steeple was destroyed in the storm. And the fire department from Montgomery County, Md., gave New York firefighters a flag that flew over the Pentagon after the terrorist attacks. It has now been signed by members of the New Orleans Fire Department.
New York firefighter Eddie D'Avanzo, who was wearing a T-shirt commemorating a colleague killed on 9/11, said coming to New Orleans was the right thing to do.
''They helped us out, and I felt like I would not want to be any other place than here helping,'' D'Avanzo said.
New Orleans Fire Capt. Mike Donaldson said he is overwhelmed by what he's seen and the aid that's flowed into the city. But comparisons to Sept. 11 are difficult, he said.
''A loss of life is different. These guys in New York lost their own. It's a lot different than just losing your home,'' said Donaldson, whose home is standing but damaged.
Even as firefighters were commemorating the Sept. 11 losses, the work in New Orleans continued.
In the middle of the ceremony, two calls for help came in, forcing at least two engines to depart.
In Mississippi, on 9/11, Emergency Workers Pause Before Returning to Own Disaster
Associated Press Writer
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) -- Emergency workers from across the nation paused Sunday on Mississippi's hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast to remember those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, then returned to the gruesome task of searching for people who may have perished in Hurricane Katrina.
A morning Mass drew firefighters, police and other rescue workers fresh from a search of rubble that litters the city's downtown, including a firefighting team from Atlanta, state police from Indiana and two retired New York firefighters.
Fighting tears, retired New York firefighter Johnny Seiler said he didn't want the recognition as parishioners at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin applauded the police and firefighters attending the special service.
''We just want to help any way we can,'' Seiler said. ''To me, this is payback for what the people of the South did for us.''
Some attended in heavy firefighter boots. Others came in sweat-stained uniforms.
Retired New York firefighter Chris Edwards, who wore an FDNY T-shirt to the special service, urged a group of Biloxi firefighters to stay strong.
''It's going to take years to get this back, but just do it,'' he said.
After singing ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' and ''America the Beautiful,'' firefighters delivered the communion bread and wine to the front of the cathedral, which received only a broken window in the hurricane. Bishop Thomas Rodi thanked the emergency workers for their heroic work in the two weeks since Katrina slammed the Gulf coast Aug. 29.