343 members of the FDNY died while trying to save others on September 11th. Every year on this day, they are honored with an event that starts at the World Trade Center and ends in Brooklyn. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio has the story from Prospect Heights.
A symbolic, somber march has become an annual tradition on September 11th for the FDNY.
Every year on this day, dozens of firefighters march from the World Trade Center across the Brooklyn Bridge with 26 flags.
Each flag is for a member of Brooklyn's Battalion 57 who died trying to save lives in the Twin Towers. The march symbolically returns them to Brooklyn.
"It's tremendously important — not that we look forward to it every year, but it's something that I feel I have to do," said Bob Castaldo of FDNY Ladder 105 /Engine 219.
They also march in honor of all 343 firefighters from across the city who did not survive, like Thomas and John Palumbo's father. They are now following in their dad's footsteps in the FDNY.
"I try to aspire to be as good as him and the other men and women on this job," said Thomas Palumbo of FDNY Engine 69.
"Everybody says it's the best job in the world. I believe it, seeing it in my house, seeing it in my family," said Thomas, who is set to join the city fire department next year. "The group, the brotherhood is so important."
The march ended at St. Joseph's Co-Cathedral in Prospect Heights, where a memorial mass was celebrated in honor of all those who died on 9/11.
"It's still a pain, but it's a pain you learn to deal with," said Ginger Petrocelli, whose son died on 9/11. "That's the best I can say. You learn to live with the pain and a hole in your heart."
Firefighters say the September 11th attacks never made them question their commitment and their decision to serve the city.
"There is more commitment to our cause and what we stand for," Castaldo said.
They continue to serve, now with their fallen brothers forever on their minds.