Written by Matthew A. Piacentini Friday, 04 December 2009 00:00
Thanksgiving time seemed the right moment to unveil a new memorial recognizing Nassau County’s fallen firefighters, commemorating those lost in the line of duty. Gratitude toward these volunteers and their families was the theme of the museum ceremony, especially in light of the fact that at these holiday times when families gather, there are some on Long Island who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service to others.
The new addition to the Nassau County Firefighters Museum in Garden City bears the names of 138 local firefighters who died in the line of duty and volunteers who were lost on 9/11. A statue modeled after an actual fireman, Tom Gies, of New York, whose father died in the line of duty on 9/11, stands in front of the list of names.
“Behind each name on this wall is a family,” said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg of Long Beach, who facilitated the memorial with a state grant. “We remember your loss… and hope this memorial also inspires young people to serve and protect others.” In addition to the names on the wall, there is an interactive computer module enabling museum visitors to look up each lost volunteer and learn information about the person.
Museum Board Chair Angelo Catalano is also commissioner of the North Bellmore Fire District. He said that in the three years that the museum has been open, its main goal has been to honor all firefighters in Nassau and the incredible heritage that exists here of volunteering to risk one’s life to protect others.
“The best way to do that is have this memorial to all the firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty and those volunteers who died on 9/11,” Catalanbo said. “We have been planning this for some time and all we needed to do was get some money, which we were able to do thanks to HarveyWesienberg.”
Frank Saracino, the Firefighters Museum’s director of grants echoed this gratitude, saying, “With Harvey Weisenberg’s help, we will be celebrating the selflessness of Nassau County fire fighters who have lost their lives.”
Weisenberg has been an avid supporter of firefighters for a long time, and said at the ceremony that being an honorary member of a Long Island fire department was very important to him. He told the crowd that in his years speaking to not only firefighters but their children and parents and grandparents, he has developed a deep respect for the sacrifice they are prepared to make. The memorial and the entire museum, he said, were hopefully a fitting statement on how Long Island values this sacrifice.
Weisenberg also said that the creation of this new monument was partly due to the failure to include a local fireman’s name on a state memorial in Albany. Paul Brady of Malverne was killed during training exercises and therefore, state officials deemed this not fit for inclusion on a monument for those lost in the line of duty. Weisenberg said he views training as part of acting in the line of duty and during the ceremony at the Garden City museum he promised that he would continue to fight this issue in Albany.
“We are going to continue to pursue this just cause and make sure that the family of Paul Brady get what they deserve,” he told the crowd of firefighters and supporters.