The name of firefighter, Peter Bielfeld who was killed during the 9/11 attacks. His whose family was at the memorial. Photo by Jennifer Cohen
On the morning of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks the mourners and tourists made their way to ground zero to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost.
Many wore shirts to commemorate their loved ones that were killed. Dominic Branda and his family, of Ringwood, New Jersey, wore matching navy blue shirts with the FDNY seal on the front right pocket. On the back of the shirts was a red fire truck and the name Peter Bielfeld, and FDNY Ladder 42 in white.
“My wife’s brother was killed as a fireman in the South Tower,” Branda said referring to the name on his shirt.
Peter Bielfeld, 44, was part of Ladder 42 in the Bronx. At the time the first tower was hit, Bielfeld was at a follow-up doctor’s visit taking care of injuries he sustained in a fire. But no injury was going to hold him back from going to the World Trade Center to help.
“He was in Metro Tech Brooklyn, he was injured and he jumped in a captain’s car and came over the Brooklyn Bridge. Fate put him in Brooklyn at that time,” Branda said of his brother in-law.
And that was the last time anyone saw him.
John Hudnall, from Austin, Texas, came to visit the memorial with a friend. They can remember exactly where and what they were doing 15 years ago. They wanted to visit the memorial to pay tribute to the victims. Although our country has made strides against terrorism, Hudnall still believes another attack is imminent.
“I travel weekly for work, and I fly, and it terrifies my wife everyday, every time I’m on a plane or waiting to get on a plane”, said Hudnall.
He said he has the same fears as his wife.
David Sears, from upstate New York, was standing near the corner of Broadway and Vesey waving a small American flag. He wore an American flag on his t-shirt and a bright red hat with the letters USA written across the front. He watched as the friends and family of the victims of 9/11 entered the memorial at 8:30am. He came to the memorial first thing in the morning because as a patriotic man and a New Yorker, he felt it was his duty.
He remembered he prayed on 9/11.
“I got with my family and prayed that we would get through the day ok and all of our fellow Americans would get through the day ok.”
Sears believes today is completely different from what it was like in 2001.
Anybody who has the slightest thought of being a terrorist is thrown in jail,” he said. “Back then everything was just so free and open.”
Sears worries about the possibility of an attack happening again.
“Unfortunately, history dictates that we do get complacent after a while you know but, hopefully in my lifetime we will never see anything like this again,” said Sears.
Michael Arnold, of Atlanta, Georgia, believes the World Trade Center was blown up by demolition. He handed out fliers near ground zero today, the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Photo by Eli Kurland
Today is the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and at the northern edge of the World Trade Center complex, colorful signs elicit ugly stares or thoughtful solidarity – depending on who you ask.
This is where you’ll find ‘9/11 Truthers,’ people who dispute the mainstream account of what happened on September 11, 2001. Their main allegation is that the Twin Towers and Tower 7 collapsed from a controlled demolition, and the plane crashes were just a diversion. Truthers come to this spot every Saturday with signs, t-shirts, pamphlets and of course, talking points. Today, on the 15th anniversary of the attacks, they are especially vocal.
“I was devastated when I learned the truth,” said Michael Arnold,50, who works as a counselor for special needs students in Atlanta, Georgia. He traveled to New York City to spread his message at the World Trade Center . “I was non-functional and almost got divorced. Then I spent way too much money on billboards and fliers. My goal is ju–“
He abruptly stopped talking, cocked his head towards a passing group of men in formal military attire and shouted, “Building 7 came down in less than 7 seconds! Controlled demolition!” Then he picked right up where he left off. “Sorry, I had to tell them. Anyways, my goal is justice – spreading the message as far and wide as possible.”
Arnold discovered the 9/11 Truther movement because his wife told him to get a hobby, so he started routinely reading political filmmaker Michael Moore’s blog about social issues. People would discuss the Truther movement in the comments section of articles. It sucked Arnold in and he became one of the regular commenters, posting Truther literature and combing over what was provided by others.
“It blew my mental circuit boards,” he said. “I couldn’t believe what I was reading.”
To Arnold’s immediate left was Claudio Marty, 52, of Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“You’re talkin’ third generation Brooklyn construction worker right here,” Marty said, gesturing at himself.
He’s the salesman of the group. but when he talks about why he’s here Marty speaks from the heart.
“We don’t do this because we’re nuts,” he said. “We do this because we love humanity. We love the world. We just don’t like being lied to. I know we’re ridiculed, but we’ve got architects in our movement, we’ve got college professors, independent journalists, military guys, ground zero guys who were here and felt the explosion, and saw the buildings go down. We’re a microcosm of society. We dug a little deeper than most. “We’re speaking up!”
Marty said he watched the towers fall from his rooftop in Park Slope. His neighbors were on their rooftops too – steel workers, construction workers, cops, the inhabitants of a blue-collar neighborhood. Marty alleged the first thing these people said after collectively watching the towers crumble was that this was a controlled demolition.
“We know construction and we’re not stupid guys,” he said. “We watch the Science Channel and we’re mechanically inclined. We have common sense. We all said the same thing, but the television told us something else.”
Ten years later, Marty was watching a business television program and for the third time that month, people called in to ask the host’s opinion about the mainstream account of what happened on 9/11. Marty said architects and engineers were calling in to inquire too. The program had nothing to do with 9/11 or politics. Marty’s interest was piqued and there was no turning back.
Marty now runs his own advertising company, but has shrunk his client roster down to a quarter of its previous size so he can devote more energy to the Truther movement. Like Arnold, the movement is Marty’s lifestyle and he said he’ll never stop.
Edward Olaié stood wrapped in an American flag outside of the World Trade Center Site. Photo by Brelaun Douglas
In Lower Manhattan, at 8:46 a.m. this morning, the St. Paul’s Church Bell of Hope tolled in honor of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Standing across the street just outside of the World Trade Center Site, wrapped in and American flag, was Edward Olaié.
For many Americans, 9/11 is a day in history to be forever remembered. On the early morning of September 11, 2001, four passenger airplanes were hijacked: one was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., one into Pennsylvania and the other two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Around 3,000 people were killed, over 6,000 injured and in the following years major changes were made to airport policies and American defense.
But only three-years-old during the attacks, Olaié, 19, has no actual memory of the tragic day in American history.
The Kew Gardens, Queens resident is among a group of Americans with no direct memory of this day or a pre 9/11 America. There is nothing for them to compare it to or memories of that day for them to share. With the average age of a high school freshman being between 13- 15, no one in the ninth grade and below would have been born for the events of 9/11. Those a few years older would have little to no memory of the day.
Yet the day still resonates with them, despite not being able to remember or having been born for it, as a day for paying their respects to those whose lives were lost.
“It hit all of New York and America, so I come down here to pay respect to people who lost their families and to New York,” Olaié, said standing in the cloudy, cool morning air.
Olaié was taught about the event in school and felt inspired by what he learned.
“In all of the grades they taught us about it,” he said. “In 8th grade, my science teacher said that he was down here helping out and ever since then I was like I’ll come down here as much as I can.”
As the clouds began to disappear and the sun shone through, North New Jersey resident Brayden Ortiz, arrived with his father to also pay his respects for the lives lost.
“My dad knew a lot of the people who died there and he worked with them,” said the 12-year-old of his father who works for Port Authority. “So we came down to look at the memorial.”
Having not been born yet, Ortiz gets his knowledge of the events from what he is taught in school.
“We learned that planes crashed into the towers and many people saved other people’s lives,” he said standing outside of the World Trade Center Site closed off to the public until 3 p.m. to allow a memorial ceremony for victim’s families. “They basically risked their lives to save the innocent. There were people who didn’t really know anyone and they saved a lot of people’s lives and they died for other people.”
Mason Gray, 14, also uses what he learns at school to form his perception of the day.
“We were taught about the times of all the events that happened, the collapse, the planes and everything,” said the Wilkes Barre, Pa. resident. “How many people died and how we remember it.”
Born two months later in December, Gray sees the events of 9/11 as a testament to America’s strength and resilience.
“It basically means that nothing can bring America down, that tower right there says that,” he said pointing to the Freedom Tower. “We’ll always stand back up.”
Condé Nast employees Berkeley Gibson and Hayley Sumela return from their lunch break to resume work at One World Trade Center. by Elizabeth Arakelian
Every morning Hayley Samela gets up in her Hoboken, NJ apartment and peers out her window where she sees the newest addition to Manhattan’s skyline: One World Trade Center.
The 1,776 foot building — the highest in the western hemisphere — is more than a beautiful site to behold for Sumela. It is also where she works.
“I would look at this building all the time because I see it from my window view where I live at home and you know, we all talk about it and we all saw the building going up, but I never thought I would be working in this building,” Sumela said.
Sumela is employed by Condé Nast, which occupies one-third of the nation’s tallest skyscraper. She was already with the company when it moved from its Times Square location and described the transition to One WTC as “surreal.”
“When we first moved here, I mean there was nobody here. It was like “Is the building even open? Am I going through the right doors?” There was a lot of construction still going on and I felt like I was the only person walking the hallways sometimes,” Samela said.
The scene at One WTC has changed since its opening in 2014 as the Center has taken on a life of its own, functioning as both a business hub and sightseeing destination. While entrance to One WTC is reserved for only those with proper identification, the security guards do double duty by directing scores of tourists towards the nearby memorial. Just as many employees enter the building as visitors who pause to gawk at the tower lending the area an odd dynamic as an intersection of tragedy and trade.
Standing as a resilient reminder of the horrific terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, One WTC has become a symbol of progress in New York and the nation. Those who work there are daily in the proximity to the site of tragedy that has since become a hallmark of this generation.
“The first time I went to the memorial it was very overwhelming, but when you get to come here everyday it gets less emotional” said Nelly Bakhtadze, an employee of technology firm Symphony.
Though the hundreds of individuals that walk into One World Trade Center everyday can likely recall precisely where they were when the towers were hit, for many the tragedy is something to remember, not relive.
“I think there is so much security in the way the building has been built I hope that there would never be an issue again,” said Condé Nast employee Berkeley Gibson.
GQ Magazine employee John Keeley was in fourth grade in South Jersey when the towers were hit and while he recalls cowering under his desk in fear and confusion, today he proudly enters the doors of One WTC calling it an “amazing opportunity.”
“You tend to find, some people think it’s really cool that I work in the World Trade Center and some people are like “Are you scared that something’s going to happen?” It’s like, no,” he said. I get to walk through the memorial everyday and the water is running and there is this beautiful park and I think it is great that we have this awesome new building.”
“God Bless America,” the message Wanda Thompson, a New York resident, left on a mural on Church Street on Sept. 11, 2015. Photo by Karis Rogerson.
For yearly travelers to the Sept. 11 memorial in New York City, the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks was another opportunity not only to focus on remembering the tragedy, but also to celebrate America’s recovery.
Jose Colon, a New Yorker, visits the memorial every year on the anniversary and has put together a vest decorated with medals and insignia in memoriam of the victims. He lost a firefighter friend in the attack 14 years ago.
Although he visits the memorial every year, each anniversary brings with it new emotions, he said.
“Sometimes I just sit, and sometimes I get mad,” Colon said. “You know, we were attacked here, in our own country. [9/11] changed the country and the whole world.”
Colon added that in his 14 years experiencing the anniversary, he’s noticed a slight change in public attitude toward the event.
“People today, it’s not like before,” he said. “Before, you would be more crowded here. Today people seem to be forgetting about it, but this is something you cannot forget, because at any given time, it could happen again, you know?”
Members of the public were not allowed into the memorial itself until early afternoon Friday, but that didn’t keep the very faithful from showing up downtown.
Conspiracy theorists on street corners urged passersby to look more closely into 9/11 and interested people stopped to write the names of loved ones on a mural Century 21 set up on Church Street, while others merely hustled from subway stops to work. Many stopped to remember the tragedy more than a decade after it shook the country, but many others appeared engrossed in the mundaneness of work on a Friday morning.
While Colon said he believes in remembering in order to prevent a reoccurrence, others simply wanted to remember and honor those lost.
Navy veteran Richard Fill of Easton, Pa., said he travels the 75 miles from his home to ground zero every year to keep from forgetting the event. He’s afraid others have lost interest.
“I never forget, but probably for a lot of people it’s just another day,” Fill said.
“But it’s not another day. To me, it should be considered like a national holiday, where nobody works on Sept. 11.”
Fill, who visits the site every year, worked for U.S. Airways and was on the crew trying to land hundreds of flights on Sept. 11, 2001, said the event really “touched home,” and that is another reason why he makes the yearly pilgrimage to ground zero. He is also proud of his country.
“The country’s a mess, but to me it’s the best country there is,” Fill said. “Every country has its problems, but there’s no other place I’d rather be than the U.S.”
A native New Yorker and Staten Island resident, Wanda Thompson, took a moment Friday to leave a message on the side of a wall that Century 21 had turned into a mural in honor of the day.
“God Bless America,” she wrote, saying she stops by the memorial every year and appreciates the country’s recovery.
“I’m always so encouraged, and it makes me feel so good to come down and see everybody,” Thompson said. “It makes me love being a New Yorker even more.
“Never mind Taylor Swift,” she added, laughing, “it should be Wanda Thompson the ambassador for New York.” (Swift was named New York City’s Global Welcome Ambassador for 2014-2015 last fall).
Thompson acknowledged that the anniversary is a solemn occasion memorializing a tragic event. Nonetheless, she said, she is able to see ways in which America has become stronger because of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“It makes me feel happy that, as sad as it is, it has brought a lot of people together that might not necessarily have come together,” Thompson said. “So I love that as ugly as it may be, but on today — and you know, this whole week and even other times — that we could talk about it and share stories and it’s bringing us together.”
One year after the Occupy Wall Street movement first converged in Zuccotti Park, hundreds of protestors flooded the financial district yesterday in an attempt to surround the New York Stock Exchange. Hundreds of police officers also lined the district: some on foot, some on horseback, and others on motorcycles. By late afternoon, over 150 people were reported arrested, according to the National Lawyers Guild of New York City.
Protestors waved banners, played music, and danced in the street. Others wore party hats and yelled, “Happy Birthday!” Demonstrators blocked several intersections before being scattered by law enforcement. Many spoke out against an unjust economic system and rallied against the same grievances the movement called attention to last fall.
“People can’t move on,” said Chloe Cockburn, 33 a civil rights lawyer from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “So many people have someone in their family facing a debt crisis, or a foreclosure, or an immigration crisis.”
“Conditions have gotten worse, they haven’t gotten better,” said Anthony Zenkus, 47, from Greenlawn, Long Island. “There’s still a disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street. It’s not a sustainable system.”
During the protests, Zenkus broke off into a chant, “Warning! If you’re not paying your fair share of taxes, the police will be making arrests today! Please stay safe.”
The protest was divided into affinity groups, small groups of people within the movement who share a common tactic, identity, skill or politics, according to the Occupy Wall Street web site. Each group united at specific locations throughout the financial district at 7 a.m. before making their way through towards the Stock Exchange. A map on the site shows the district divided into four blocs: the 99% Zone, the Education Zone, the Eco Zone, and the Debt Zone. Organizers for the movement had been planning the event for months, said Zenkus.
Despite the turnout, Zenkus said he lamented people’s limited ability to show their support.
“For every one of my friends that’s here, I know a lot of people—good people—who sympathize but couldn’t come out today,” he said.
“It’s a good turnout this year,” said T.J. Frawls, 33, founder of the Political and Electoral Working Group at OWS. “I was here on this day last year and it’s just as many people—maybe more.”
“I carried this same sign,” he added. The sign, now a crumpled piece of cardboard read, “SMASH THE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM.”
Frustration with the current electoral system resounded throughout the protest. Within a movement largely touted as being liberal, most expressed a largely nonpartisan political resentment.
“The two-party system constrains voter choice and creates the fiction that these two corporate-sponsored parties actually represent the existing spectrum of political interests and beliefs in this country,” said Frawls. “And they don’t. They only represent a narrow set of interests.”
“To me the election is a distraction,” said Zenkus. “We’re still here. People are still enraged.”
Some protestors wore masks bearing the faces of President Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In one group, the two were chained at the neck by another protestor dressed as Rich Uncle Pennybags, the mascot of the game monopoly.
“Frankly I don’t think it’s a left-right issue,” said protestor Douglas Ficek, 35, of Astoria, Queens. “The idea is that more and more we are moving away from a democracy to a plutocracy—rule by the rich.”
Ficek added that he would still vote for President Obama in November.
“It’s ok to vote for the lessor of two evils, I think,” he said.
The Occupiers reconvened for a meeting at Battery Park at 11:30 a.m. The early morning tension momentarily subsided as protestors sat in a large circle in the grass while police stood quietly by. At the gathering, called a spokescouncil, representatives from each of the affinity groups gave an account of the day’s successes, failures, and concerns. Some planned to stage further protests throughout the afternoon.
“There’s so many stories in the media saying ‘Occupy is dead this, Occupy is dead that’ and don’t get me wrong I get that because it definitely disappeared from public view, but there are a lot of local Occupy events happening,” said Ficek during the spokescouncil. He admitted that it was discouraging when large movements don’t come to political fruition. Years earlier, Ficek took part in the massive protests against the Iraq war.
Cockburn was torn between the ideals of the movement and some of its tactics.
“If success is stopping people from going to work—I don’t think that’s a good goal personally,“ she said, shrugging. “It is successful to the extent that there are many people out sharing a common message.” She added that police presence had a huge impact on the number of protestors.
“I don’t think that they’re failing,” she said. “I think that they’re succeeding in forcefully controlling people.”
Tommy Montalvo, a Puerto Rican cab driver from the Bronx, said much larger demonstrations were needed.
“We’ve seen other places, like Egypt, where it has happened,” he said. “Most of us can’t even visualize that happening here—not an overthrow of our government—but a complete economic change that favors the poor and middle class.
“We’re trending towards less activism, and even lower numbers. What is this going to accomplish?”
The sun was barely rising today when 69-year-old Bill Steyert walked passed the barricades surrounding Zuccotti Park and yelled a resounding “OCCUPY WALL STREET!” into the crisp morning.
The occupation had begun.
But at just 6:30 AM, the birthplace of the Occupy Movement had more police than protesters and Steyert’s call was met with little response. Still, Steyert was excited.
“It feels like a birthday,” he said. “September 17 will always be a day in history. I’m here to show that the movement still has fire in it.”
Steyert, a Queens native and Vietnam veteran, said he was apart of every major movement of OWS, from the Brooklyn Bridge incident— which ended with 700 arrests— to May Day and finally, today, his “Occu-versary”. Steyert was wearing a “Veterans for Peace” shirt, a “Vietnam Vet” hat, and waving a dirty, yellow Gadsen flag that read “Don’t Tread On Me”. The senior citizen called it his battle flag.
“I added these words in permanent marker,” he explained, proudly holding out the flag. “So now it says ‘The 99% says Don’t Tread On Me’. This is a message for all Americans.”
But by 7:09 AM, Steyert’s battle flag lay abandoned in the middle of Broadway. The 69-year-old veteran had been arrested for blocking traffic. Steyert continued to chant “Occupy Wall Street!” as he was led away. His arrest was the first of more than 100 OWS arrests.
Six minutes later around 200 people had gathered near Zuccotti Park. The diverse crowd was abuzz with energy. The vibe was celebratory. Bands played as confetti was released in the air and protesters in elaborate costumes marched with props. But the older members of OWS were focused on the mission, not the frills.
Most brought up the rear end of the crowd. Others could be spotted in the rowdy mass here and there, walking in groups of two or three with their Army green “Veterans for Peace” shirts.
Last year, a profile of OWS said the average Occupier was 33. But the baby boomers of the movement, those 60+, are present and are making a statement.
“This is the worst I’ve seen the country in my entire life,” said Bob Nash, 69, of Long Island and a disabled Marine veteran. “Thirty percent of the homeless in the United States are veterans, that’s a disgrace.”
Steyert said he is a seasoned protester. After leaving the Navy, he began protesting the Vietnam War in 1968. He said OWS is reminiscent of the Anti-War movement.
“I never thought since the Vietnam War that I’d see that kind of enthusiasm and citizen action again,” said Steyert, “We’re all pissed and it’s a beautiful day to get arrested.”
And for Steyert, it was.
Allison Gortaney is a good bartender. She is also a scholar of the classics, a dancer and, if you catch her on the right night, one of the best Ground Zero archivists not on the World Trade Center’s payroll.
The 35-year-old from Brooklyn spends her nights serving up platters of chicken fingers, cups of chowder and pints of beer to the patrons of O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub, at 120 Church Street in Lower Manhattan.
O’Hara’s is a typical, cozy neighborhood sports bar near both Ladder Company 10 and the now fenced-off WTC construction site. Through a combination of location and perhaps coincidence, it is now the unofficial Mecca for firemen from across the country who travel to New York City on Sept. 11. They gather annually here to remember and honor those whose names adorn the list of 2,996 killed on a sunny Tuesday morning nine years ago.
Like most New Yorkers, Gortaney can tell you exactly where she was when the first plane collided with the north tower. At the time, she was a student at Hunter College.
“I wandered the streets for hours,” she remembered. “The dust was everywhere, and the streets were just full of people.” But ultimately it was the smell, akin to that of burning metal, which haunts her.
“It lasted for months,” she said. Even in February, she remembers the scent lingered on the streets.
For the price of a lager and maybe a friendly conversation, Gortaney is more than happy to share her experiences. But if you time it correctly and catch her on a quiet night, she might also share with you the book.
The book is actually a scrapbook — a photo album pieced painstakingly together by the proprietors and many visitors who may come to the bar simply for a drink or a bite to eat, but who leave often with a renewed sense of connection to the events of 9/11.
At first glance, the book is far from remarkable. The edges are fraying, pages spill out from both ends and the spine looks as if it’s only barely managing to hold everything together. There is an unassuming, careworn air to it, with its faded navy-blue cover embossed with a single word: glory.
Inside, some of the laminated pockets hold large glossy photos originally featured in magazines such as Vanity Fair and TIME. There are several pictures documenting damage to the bar, which was closed for eight months following the tragedy.
In one photo, the bar’s co-owner Jimmy Sheridan stands in front of the entrance staring grimly into the camera from beneath an orange hard hat. Wreckage festoons the upper floor’s patio and dangles, confetti-like, from the fire escape. In another faded shot, a pair of uniformed military policemen rests their feet on the bench out front.
“This place was a haven,” said Patricia Ehring, a Wall Street employee from Brooklyn , who has been coming to O’Hara’s for years.
Another regular, John Murphy, of Battery Park City, agreed from his corner stool as he nursed a sweating Budweiser.
“This place helped bring the neighborhood back together,” Murphy said. “”It’s simple. There is a lot of sadness to the left,” he said, gesturing across the street, “but this place gives us a little relief.”
The book also holds newspaper clippings, a collection of poems written by Canadian Janet Friedl Smith and letters of thanks and support from visitors, many of whom vow to someday return, or to send a patch from their hometown fire company or precinct to add to the thousands that cover the bar’s molding — from entrance to exit.
Every region, from Pittsburgh to Beverly Hills, Miami, Alabama and Las Vegas is represented here, in all of their multi-hued, iron-on glory.
“If you took all of the staples out of this place, it would probably fall down,” joked Sheridan, an Irishman sporting a no-nonsense flat top to complement his brogue.
Ken Eveland of Geneva, N.Y., wrote, “After our lunch and upon stepping outside your door … we thought about you standing there and watching as the world crumbled around you. It was a very sobering and emotional experience. Lest we never forget.” Ron Frazer from Kansas thanked Sheridan for showing him the book, and for his formidable Guinness pouring skills. Deputy Chief Marc Bellefeuire from Biddeford, Maine, thanked the bar for so piously remembering the fallen, adding to the postscript, “The hell with them towel heads!”
On Saturday, the families and friends of those killed nine years ago stood for hours in Zucotti Park as the names of the dead were read aloud.
Around the corner at O’Hara’s, however, the mood couldn’t have been more different. Both levels of the tavern were jam-packed with boisterous firemen, police officers, sailors and Marines. Career fire captains wore dignified blazers and company pins, swapping insults and anecdotes with their younger counterparts. Neckties were loosened and guards were let down. Groups ordered no fewer than seven beers, and the firefighters cap set on the bar was always overflowing with cash.
A swamped but undaunted bar staff kept everyone’s glasses full and spirits light. If the memorial litany of names that continued live on the back television sets was the morning’s funeral ceremony, then this was a good, old-fashioned Irish wake, complete with the guarantee of more than a few Sunday hangovers.
Ladder Company 143 from Queens was well represented on the upper level, with retired Lt. Bobby McGuire holding court over a large group of blue-shirted firemen in their 20s and 30s. McGuire was forced to retire due to lung disease contracted because of his rescue efforts on Sept. 11.
Rob Hogan, one of McGuire’s protégés from Long Island, visibly reveled in the atmosphere and camaraderie.
“We just want to remember, drink a beer,” Hogan said. “I lost friends on September 11th. We all did.”
Like many of his bar mates Hogan bypassed the morning’s ceremony to come directly to O’Hara’s. People might judge the decision, he said, but Hogan stuck firmly by his choice. Someday, he said, this is how he, too hoped to be remembered— all of his buddies gathered together, toasting him with Miller Lites and laughter.