Grief, loss return to 9/11 firehouse


Grief, loss return to 9/11 firehouse

By Associated Press

Monday, August 20, 2007 - Updated: 06:28 AM EST

NEW YORK - Two more firefighters were dead, and once again the rituals of public bereavement were playing out in front of the brick firehouse in Greenwich Village, where a brass wall plaque lists the names of 11 men who perished on Sept. 11, 2001.

It began slowly, with early-morning dog-walkers pausing as they passed the big, red wooden door on Sixth Avenue. Then came men in blue shorts and FDNY T-shirts, grieving silently.

Soon there was a trickle of civilians carrying paper-wrapped bouquets from nearby florists. They deposited them at two impromptu memorials that steadily grew on the sidewalk. Black and purple bunting was draped over the door later yesterday afternoon. “A loss is a loss, but more so this time because it was at Ground Zero. It hits very close to home,” said Art Weber, 35, a firefighter from Clifton, N.J.

On Saturday firefighters Robert Beddia, 53, and Joseph Graffagnino, who would have turned 34 today, died of smoke inhalation while fighting a fire at the former Deutsche Bank building, a 41-story skyscraper damaged by debris on Sept. 11, 2001, that was being painstakingly dismantled.

Graffagnino, who joined the department in 1999, leaves a wife and two small children. Both fallen firefighters responded to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. That day, firefighters from this firehouse were as high up as the 37th floor of the north tower, looking for survivors, and 11 of them never made it out.

Four motorcyclists who belong to America’s 9/11 Foundation Inc., a group supporting police, firefighters and other first responders, came from as far as Virginia to pay their respects.

Among those leaving flowers were Eric and Lanita Hazard, transplanted Texans who live in an apartment building behind the former Deutsche Bank building.

“The two firefighters who lost their lives - these are our firefighters,” said Eric Hazard, 29.