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BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/ Photos by Arthur De Gaeta
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/ Photos by Arthur De Gaeta
FDNY holds ceremony and ads 32 names to its FDNY Memorial Wall.

Tears were shed as the FDNY held its annual ceremony honoring those who died of illnesses related to their work in the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero on and after September 11, 2001.

During the ceremony, held on Thursday, September 7, the names of 32 members of the department were added to the Memorial Wall at FDNY Headquarters, 9 MetroTech Center. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, First Deputy Commissioner Robert R. Turner II, Chief of Department James Leonard and families of the deceased FDNY members were in attendance.

“Our World Trade Center Memorial Wall is a testament to their courage 16 years ago, and in the face of illness,” said Nigro. “It is a symbol of our department’s bravery, and it demonstrates the dangers our members face, and the lengths they will go to honor their sworn oaths.

“The 32 members we remember today were without question courageous and brave, they were dedicated and compassionate, and they performed their duties, no matter the cost,” Nigro went on. “There is no number like 343 to describe them, because we don’t know when this loss will stop. No one does. We only know that far too many more of our members are sick, and we know the number who lose their lives because of September 11 will continue to grow year after year.”

According to Nigro, to date, the FDNY has gathered more than 100 times to honor each of the individuals.

Following the ceremony, 159 names are now on the wall.

Among those added to the wall this year was Firefighter William Gormley of Ladder Company 174, who died this past June of cancer that it is believed he contracted while helping with recovery efforts at Ground Zero. His sister Katherine Khatari was in attendance.

“It was heartbreaking because it’s a continuous reminder of that day,” said Khatari, who attended with Gormley’s wife Liz Ann, daughter Bridget and sons Billy, Raymond and Kevin, among other family members. “It never goes away and you can’t hide it, but to be there, to have him honored for his service, is like a medal of honor in regards to the fact that he unselfishly gave himself to this country and this city. To have his name put on the wall, it was just like reliving that day all over again. It was heartbreaking for the whole family but by the same token, the firemen, his brothers in uniform, were fabulous to all of us.

“I’d rather be sitting there talking to my brother as opposed to looking at his name on the wall,” added Khatari. “Being a firefighter is a job that’s in your heart. It’s a job where you run into a fire and do not know if you’re going home to see your wife or kids or family. That’s not a common thing.”

Khatari, who is trying to have the corner of Flatbush and Flatlands Avenues renamed in Gormley’s memory, recalls his heroic efforts in the wake of the terrorist attacks.  “He was right on top of that rock digging, and I know he would do it all over again.” she said.

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