On Sunday, January 25, The Aida Lodge of the Order of the Sons of Italy honored Kathy Mazza, a Massapequa native and a heroine of 9/11.
The lodge held a ceremony at the Bethpage Senior Community Center with the purpose of changing their name in honor of Port Authority Police Captain Kathy Mazza.
Over 250 family, friends and lodge members attended the ceremony. Guest speakers included New York State Assemblyman Joseph S. Saladino, Nassau County Legislator Edward Mangano, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman Ruth Marie Walker and Deputy Director of the Port Authority Police Carol Maresca.
Also present were national and state officials of the Order of the Sons of Italy in America. They included Joseph DiTrapani, First National Vice President, Salvatore Lanzilotta, First State Vice President and Nancy DiFiore Quinn, New York State President.
The moving ceremony celebrated Kathy's life and career, especially her heroism on that tragic day.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Captain Mazza was the Commanding Officer of the Port Authority Police Academy. After the terrorists hit, Kathy and other members of the Port Authority Police Department responded to aid in the rescue.
Kathy and members of her group were not only credited with leading large numbers of people out of the doomed building; at one point, Kathy shot out a glass window that was causing a bottleneck in the lobby, thereby allowing many more people to escape.
Captain Mazza, however never made it out of the tower. She stopped on her way out, along with four of her fellow officers, to assist a woman who could no longer walk out and placed her in a rescue chair. Tower One then collapsed on them, before they could escape the building.
In February 2002, five months later, Captain Mazza and the four other Port Authority Police Officers were found in the rubble of the North Tower. Beside them was the body of the woman still strapped in a rescue chair. It is because of her dedication to duty and life that the lodge voted to change the name of the lodge to honor this Italian-American patriot. The name change also honors all those other brave public servants who perished that day.
The ceremony opened with the presenting of the colors by the New York New Jersey Port Authority Police Honor Guard. After the Pledge of Allegiance. Both the Italian and American National Anthems were played. Everyone then joined hands for a rendition of "God Bless America."
Lodge Member Felicia Mannetta gave a brief invocation after which the Mazza family participated in a candle lighting ceremony. On each table a candle was lit in memory of Kathy Mazza.
During the ceremonies, Mazza family members spoke, as did local dignitaries.
One of the first speakers was her dad, John Mazza Sr. He recalled that a few days after she was reported missing he had a dream about his daughter. She came to him and told him to remember her. He awoke and wrote a poem, entitled "My Fallen Flower:"
Oh! The Angels are around me
Telling me of times to come
But my flower has not blossomed
In the absence of the sun
Yet my God will not forsake me
Why, my Lord, art thy ways so strange
Come into my heart and touch me
For Thy touch brings out the sun
Kathy's brothers, John Jr. and Ronny, also paid homage to their sister.
"She would never forget to send a birthday card to a family member and I still miss that card," John Jr. recalled. Ronny added that he is still humbled by his sister's accomplishments.
Nassau County Legislator Edward Mangano told those gathered that Kathy stands for a "freedom that many in the world do not yet understand". He then presented the lodge with a citation from Nassau County.
Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, who became a friend of the family after 9/11, said, "we often look outside for a role model, but there are many in our own back yard, like Kathy." He added that Captain Mazza has had streets named after her and a park, but getting this lodge named after her was the finest honor of all. Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman Ruth Marie Walker also presented the lodge with a citation from the Town of Oyster Bay.
Port Authority Deputy Director of the Public Safety and Deputy Superintendent of Police Carol Maresca spoke of her friendship with Kathy and her dedication to both her work and family. Ms. Maresca said she still misses Kathy personally and professionally.
State Assemblyman Joseph S. Saladino told those assembled that "we are all of one family." He also thanked the police in attendance for helping to continue to keep American citizens safe since 9/11.
Joseph DiTrapani, the First National Vice President of Order of the Sons of Italy in America said, "we don't do this very often (change the name of a lodge), but this way we will always remember Captain Kathy Mazza and the 37 police and 80 civilians from the Port Authority that lost their lives that day. We have not been attacked these past eight years, thanks to the diligence of the police and the people who protect us."
Nancy DiFiore Quinn, President of New York State Order of Sons of Italy in America, presented the lodge with a gavel that had the lodge's new name "Captain Kathy Mazza Lodge 2163A" engraved. She then unveiled the new lodge banner.
Rose Mazza, Kathy's mother, then thanked everyone who attended and for this latest honor for her daughter.
Linda-Ann Wargo, president of the Captain Kathy Mazza Lodge, then closed the ceremony.
Kathy's cousin, Dominick J. Maffa, himself a former Nassau County police officer, expressed his own thoughts to The Massapequan Observer.
"I have always been proud to say that Kathy Mazza was my first cousin," he said. "Kathy and I always seemed to understand one another. It had nothing to do with us being police officers, it just that we were alike in some ways. I always hope that if I am put to the test like her, that I will react as she did on September 11 and that she would be proud of me. Since 9/11 Kathy has been my idol. Something tells me that she is watching over the family and this is very comforting thought in these trying times."
Kathy Mazza was born in 1955. Along with her three brothers, she was raised in Massapequa, where she graduated from Plainedge High School and later pursued a nursing degree at Nassau Community College. With her cardiothoracic training, became an operating nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.
In 1987, she enrolled in the Port Authority Police Academy. Kathy also married her longtime sweetheart Chris DeLosh, who was a member of the New York City Police Department. They moved to Farmingdale, where they had bought a house. She rose quickly up the ranks during her 14 years with the Port Authority Police.
In 1994 she made Sergeant; in 1998, a Lieutenant; and in 2000, a Captain. Kathy also brought her nursing skills to the Port Authority Police Department with CPR and defibrillator training. Captain Mazza supervised the department's first aid programs, plus its certified first responder and emergency medical technician training.
In 1997, she launched the agency defibrillator program which today continues to save lives. In 1999, Captain Kathy Mazza was named New York City Basic Life Support Provider of the Year for promoting the use of heart defibrillators throughout the agency's police department.
---Dominick J. Mazza contributed to this article.