Ten years ago, 19 men from a firehouse on 68th St. in Maspeth gave their lives helping people they had never met and would never know.
On a day where 343 firefighters were among the more than 2,700 people killed, Squad 288/Hazmat 1 in Maspeth suffered the single largest loss of life at any firehouse in the city.
And hundreds came out Friday to remember their courage and their sacrifice, and to embrace the loved ones the men of Squad 288 and Hazmat 1 left behind.
The 10th annual ceremony, at Maspeth Memorial Park, featured an addition to the neighborhood’s 9/11 monument.
One new wing on the memorial now houses twisted steel from the World Trade Center site. The other displays helmets of firefighters on the USS Wyoming, which patrolled New York Harbor in the months following the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The additions were sponsored by Maspeth Federal Savings and Maspeth’s United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations. The memorial also honors four firefighters and two civilians who were residents of Maspeth.
“This was very hard for me,” said Cathy Mazzotta whose daughter, Jennifer, died in the north tower, where she worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.
“I can’t stand Septembers,” Mazzotta said. “And then you come into the holidays, like Christmas. It never goes away. We’ll go into the city sometimes and go to the family room, but I won’t be going in on Sunday. That would be too tough.”
Jennifer’s great aunt, Margaret Scaturo, also attended, wearing a T-shirt adorned with her picture.
The ceremony featured the reading of all 25 names on the monument, beginning with the residents, then the fallen members of Squad 288 and Hazmat 1.
A bell sounded a single tone as a family member or a fellow firefighter approached the memorial with a small American flag, and a single red rose that were planted in the front.
Some widows and mothers blew kisses to their loved ones. Firefighters honored their fallen brethren with salutes.
Ceremonial doves were released while a bugler played “Taps,” and the FDNY laid a wreath dedicated to those lost by the memorial.
The crowd also heard comments from a handful of elected officials, while musical selections included the “Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful” and “Let there Be Peace on Earth.”
The current officers and men from the station, just across the narrow street, were in attendance. Battalion Chief Nicholas Corrado praised the people who over the last 10 years rebuilt both companies with even better training than was available before the attacks. He also thanked Maspeth.
“You have put us up on a pedestal,” he said. “And these men went above and beyond the call of duty.”
The community has returned the love over the last 10 years.
“I live in Houston now, but I try and come back for the ceremony every year,” said Maspeth native Laurie Kiskorna-Monahan. “And some day I’m going to bring back some yellow roses of Texas for the memorial.”
Kenneth Rudzewick, president of Maspeth Federal Savings and master of ceremonies, commented that the crisp blue sky was very similar to the one on Sept. 11. 2001. He cited the inscription on the cornerstone at the new Freedom Tower in speaking of how the city and the country have grown closer and stronger in the last 10 years.
“It says ‘To honor and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of Freedom,’” he said.
The Rev. Peter Zendzian, pastor of Holy Cross Parish, called on all to emulate the men he called martyrs.
“Give us the strength to love as they loved — in rescuing others.”