For many first responders, standing on the same ground where they tried in vain to save 2,749 people brought back haunting memories yesterday.
Responders told Metro that hearing the names of those killed brought back vivid scenes of helping — and being helpless.
“I saw the south tower fall first, which blew me into One Financial Center,” recalled first responder Kevin Frazier, who said he was one of the first at the foot of the World Trade Center as the two towers burned.
He comes every year to the service to pay his respects, he said, and remember.
Upstate paramedic Jeff Sitterly arrived the week after Sept. 11 to help firefighters as they combed through the wreckage. “At that point we were just there for the recovery,” he said.
He tries to attend the memorial services every year. “It’s been very emotional for me to be here, and it’s something I feel like I should do as often as I can.”
Some responders like FDNY veteran James O’Brien, moved to Florida after the 9/11 attacks, where his wife Tina said she now feels safe. They returned to the city for the anniversary. “There’s no place else,” she said.
Watching outside the walls
Many responders were upset they could not attend the actual ceremony. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said family members were the priority, and so many of them wanted to attend it left little room for anyone else. First responders instead gathered at Zuccotti Park near the World Trade Center, where the city set aside space for them to watch. The FDNY also hosted their own 10-year anniversary ceremony Saturday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Others chose to honor the 343 fallen at their own fire houses. The NYPD held its memorial ceremony Thursday.