The Brooklyn Cyclones and a community group honored a local Marine veteran amputee and 9/11 emergency responders who lost their lives as part of the seventh annual Heroes Night at MCU Park on Friday, August 14.
“It was just a marvelous situation that he could get his life together after losing his legs,” Sol Moglen the founder of the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, the community group that organized the ceremony, said about the Marine, Matias Ferreira, a Long Island native who served as a lance corporal in the Marine Corps and lost both his legs in the Afghanistan war. “It shows Wounded Warriors can still have a life after what happened to them.”
The Wall of Remembrance at the ballpark is made of three 30 x 12-foot high granite walls that contain the laser-engraved images of 346 FDNY firefighters, 37 Port Authority officers, 23 NYPD officers, three New York State officers, one fire patrol member, first responders, and a K-9 rescue dog named Sirius, all of whom lost their lives during September 11 and many of whom were from Brooklyn.
Family members of some of those victims joined Ferreira, the Wall of Remembrance group, and officials from the NYPD, FDNY and the Port Authority for a prayer service for 9/11 emergency responder victims one hour before the game.
“We stand together as one family,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, a FDNY chaplain and executive director of the New York Board of Rabbis. Potasnik gave Ferreira an award as part of the ceremonies. “When you look up at the wall, you don’t ask who’s Jewish, who’s Christian; we just remember those who are important to us.”
On the field afterwards, Ferreira—who is a catcher for a local softball team made up of armed forces veterans who lost limbs while on duty—threw out the first pitch before the Cyclones game against the State College Spikes.
Moglen, who conceived the idea for the wall, said he did not want Heroes Night be a night of grief.
“The purpose of Heroes Night is for the people to come and just enjoy a night of baseball, to relax and reflect on their loved ones and know that life continues,” Moglen said. “Ground Zero will always be sad. But at Coney Island at the wall, we celebrate [those who lost their lives in 9/11].”
According to Moglen, in attendance as well were family members of Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, two cops who were shot and killed at point-blank range in Brooklyn in December, 2014.
The ceremonies marked the first time a Wounded Warrior was honored at Heroes Night.
Artist Jamie Laster designed the Wall of Remembrance, the first section of which he completed in 2002. The remainder of the wall was finished over the course of the following six years.