"I lost my beloved son on September 11th ... he was on the 194th floor of Tower #1. I watched on that fateful day the smoke billowing up into the clouds and couldn't believe my eyes ... When will the hurt be less sharp or the sadness go away for even one whole day? Will there ever be a day when I will not cry for him? I don't think so."
Joe Mantegna thanks retired firefighters on the 2002 National Memorial Day Concert.
Nearly 10 years after the events of 9/11 and the terrorist attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, our nation experienced a renewed sense of national unity. The 2011 “National Memorial Day Concert”opened with a special segment remembering those who lost their lives that day and their loved ones, and commemorating the heroism of thefire fighters and police officers who first responded. Daniel Rodriguez, the New York City cop who sang at more than 100 memorial services, performed “God Bless America”.
September 11, 2001 became a galvanizing moment in American history. Each person who was over a certain age on that day will never forget those terrifying moments when the unimaginable happened; when America was attacked, when more lives were taken than at Pearl Harbor. And the images of the missing person posters all over the city of New York and of the shrines created to honor the fallen will remain with us forever.
Anniversary of 9/11
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In 2002, on the National Memorial Day Concert, we shared the real stories of Americans who were personally affected by the events of 9/11. Joe Mantegna honored four retired firefighters, Lee Ielpi, Dennis O’Berg, Bill Butler and John Vigiano, who took on the heartbreaking task of searching for their own sons -- New York City police officers and firefighters -- who died trying to save others.
John Vigiano said, “Our sons died doing what they loved to do, helping people. Protecting their city. Serving their country. They were heroes. We don’t like past tense. They are heroes. Yeah, that’s the way I want them to be remembered. Good cops, good firemen, good fathers, good husbands. And definitely great sons.”
Young actress Caitlin Wachs grieved with Dana Palmer, a 14-year-old girl whose father, Battalion Chief Orio Palmer, was killed that day while working at Ground Zero.
In a letter Dana wrote to her father and read at his memorial service she said, “I hate knowing that you’re really not coming home this time, and that all I remember about when I saw you last, was that I was doing my homework, and I got up and kissed you good-bye. I didn’t know it would be forever … You’ll never know how proud I am of you, and I can’t even imagine what you must’ve gone through in the very end. I’d like to think that God took you right away, and that you didn’t have to suffer. I will love you forever. I don’t know one fireman who isn’t a hero, whether they’re with you in heaven or down here with us, but you were my hero.”
“Memorial Day has become an especially significant day for me because of my experience on 9/11. From that day to this, nearly 10 years later, I have watched young men and women make the ultimate sacrifice to combat terrorism and preserve freedoms. I have visited the wounded and given my support to several foundations who support our troops and through it all I am reminded on Memorial Day that these are only the latest in a long line of brave men and women who have fought and died for a great idea, freedom. As a part of this celebration I can pay tribute to their memory and live up to the motto that we in New York have adopted since 9/11: "We will never forget.”-- Daniel Rodriguez
If you have a loved one or a friend who died on September 11, 2001, please visit the Remembering Our Fallen virtual wall and share your remembrance.