Remembering 9/11

When the first hijacked aircraft hit Tower 1 of the World Trade Center on 9-11, Fire Chief Peter Ganci yelled down the hall to his commanders, “Look out your windows, the World Trade Center’s been hit by a plane!” The men rose, looked and lunged for their gear.

Ganci too, pulled on his turnout coat. And he, like every other firefighter in the city, raced toward the site. Those coming on the 9 a.m. shift, those getting off — they all jumped on the trucks together. So did the retirees, and the men on medical leave who happened to be hanging around the station houses. One group of firefighters commandeered a crowded 67th Street crosstown bus.

Ganci established a command center. When he realized the towers weren’t stable, he tried to pull everyone back, but a lot of men were still inside. He ran south toward the Twin Towers. “He didn’t have a reverse gear,” said Paul Nigro, his deputy. He did what he lived to do – he went to save people – and no one saw him alive again. “Every firefighter at the scene, more than 500 people, went directly into the most dangerous conditions they had ever seen,” said Nigro. Ganci epitomizes the character of a firefighter. And so we thank him, and the others who gave everything. As we approach the tenth anniversary of that day, we honor them — by remembering.

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