A special prayer service was held Saturday at St. Patrick's Cathedral to honor the 343 members of the New York City Fire Department who died on 9/11, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Archbishop Timothy Dolan and others all offered words for the families present.
“In this, God’s house, all are welcome. In this house which belongs to the Lord, who wants to save and protect and welcome his people, those who do the same – our firefighters – are also at home,” said Dolan.
“This is an awfully tough week for the FDNY. It’s an awfully tough week for all of us. The emotions come rushing back along with so many memories and so many stories,” said Bloomberg, who continued to praise the bravery of the fire department and its work since September 11th.
The pews at St. Patrick's Cathedral were filled, leaving hundreds outside watching on giant television sets. Many had traveled for hours to come to New York for the 10th anniversary.
Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano, Chief of Department Edward Kilduff, and many active and retired FDNY members and their families were present for the proceedings.
“Amid the violence and horror were moments of extreme loyalty, kindness, and selflessness,” said Cassano. “Out of the depths of this tragedy, we rebuilt the greatest fire department in the world.”
Patrick Mate Lyons, the 10-year-old son of a deceased firefighter who was born 26 days after September 11th, gave remarks.
"As I get older, everyone says I walk like you, run like you and have your crazy sense of humor, too," said Lyons. “I really wish I could have met you."
The congregation then rose for a prayer service led by the Reverend Stephen Harding, an FDNY chaplain.
Kilduff spoke about how the FDNY has evolved since 9/11, emphasizing the shift from "reactive to proactive" service that came about because of the new need for counterterrorism efforts.
He also highlighted the "sacrifice and dignity" of the 343 firefighters who perished and their families.
“It became apparent that through their actions, all 343 firefighters were exceptional people as well as firefighters," said Kilduff.
Ashley Fodor, whose father was among the firefighters killed on September 11th, followed this with words of her own.
“To us, dad was untouchable, a constant in our lives, but he was taken away, lost in the city he so loved, buried under buildings he had admired, doing his job with honor and vigor," said Fodor. "I can still hear his voice in my ear recollecting the city's history, describing the architecture in passing buildings."
Rabbi and FDNY Chaplain Joseph Potasnik then contributed thoughts, calling Ground Zero "the place where death teaches love." Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, was said.
There was then a lighting of candles done by children of those firefighters who died, followed by a reading of the 343 names that was accompanied by photographs.
The archbishop called the list a "hall of fame."
He then said, not just of the deceased but also the firefighters present for the ceremony, “You go against whatever degrades human life."