A Gathering for a Hero . . .

Last month, on a beautiful autumn day, family, friends and co-workers gathered in Manhattan at Marine 1 headquarters to pay tribute to my uncle Harry who passed away last year from a 9/11 related illness.

This is a photo I took of a photo that was given to my aunt. My uncle, by the Grace of God, was not working at the time the planes hit the World Trade Center but was there immediately afterward. He is the man in the blue shirt that is standing on top of the pile of debris. He worked there tirelessly for months following the attacks. Because of this, he developed severe respiratory problems and cancer. His name has been added to the list of 9/11 heroes that tragically lost their life due to this horrendous act of terrorism.

My Uncle Harry was the epitome of a loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend. He was also blessed to have been able to do what he loved as a member of the FDNY where he worked for over 40 years.

His wife, children and grandchildren standing next to the plaque that was dedicated in his memory.

This is Marine 1's new fire boat that was purchased post 9/11. It is a beauty.

Before my Uncle passed, he told his family that he wanted to be in charge of the clouds when he went to Heaven. On this day, there was not a single cloud in the sky and we knew he had taken the day off from his Heavenly duties to be with his loved ones. : )

My Uncle's brother FDNY firefighters lined up on Marine 1, holding his plaque.

This is a picture of every member of the FDNY that was killed on September 11, 2001. My Uncle knew of or had worked with many of them.

On September 11th, we lost a young member of our community who worked in the World Trade Center. His name was Welles Crowther. You may have heard of "the man with the red bandana." There have been many articles and documentaries about him. He was trained as a volunteer firefighter and repeatedly walked up and down the stairs of one of the towers to save many people. He had been carrying a red bandana with him like he had done since he was a little boy and had it tied around his face so he wouldn't breathe in as much dust and smoke. Several of the survivors told the story of this "man with the red bandana" that had saved them. His parents knew it had to have been him.

My Uncle was very good friends with Welles' parents and would stop by their home every day after he came back from Ground Zero to give them any news about Welles. When the debris of the towers was being cleared, his body was found in the lobby with other firefighters. Their son had died a hero.

This is a photo of my cousin, Paul. He has been a member of the FDNY for 30 plus years. He was very close with my Uncle Harry. He's standing with Welles' parents. They are both wearing red bandanas. Welles' father, Jeff, mentioned my Uncle's name at the reading of the names this past 9/11. They are an incredible family.

This incredibly beautiful statue was made by a firefighter out of Marine 1. It is made of steel from the World Trade Center.

My Uncle's son-in-law, grandchildren and my cousin, Tracy.

It was an incredibly sad but beautiful day. Just typing this brings tears to my eyes. Tears for my Uncle's premature death at a young age. Tears for my Aunt, my cousins and their children. Tears for everyone who lost someone on September 11th or as a result of that horrific day. Tears for my surviving Aunt and Uncle who lost three brothers suddenly and way too early in life. Life does go on as we all know and, thankfully, we will always have our own special memories of my Uncle.

As we left Marine 1, in the distance we could see more proof of life going on.

On the left of the picture (the building that looks like there is a "V" on top of it) is the Freedom Tower that is being built at the site of the World Trade Center.

May God bless America and all of its people.

Many blessings ~ Wendy

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