Thursday 29 September 2016

Fifteen years after September 11: Hundreds of firefighters honoured at New York memorial

Published 11/09/2016 | 09:05

Visitors pay tribute to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 on the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)
Visitors pay tribute to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 on the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)
The Tribute in Light rises above the lower Manhattan skyline (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Candles in memory of the passengers and crew of Flight 93, are lit along the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)
Retired New York City firefighter Joseph McCormick remembers his fallen colleagues (AP)

The 343 firefighters who died 15 years ago in the September 11 attacks have been honoured at a memorial service for acts of heroism that New York's mayor said "most of us could not fathom".

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Hundreds of family members of those who died and those who survived the attacks listened to their loved ones remembered for their courage on a day that would claim the lives of more firefighters than any other day in the nation's history.

The names of the dead firefighters were read aloud during the service at St Patrick's Cathedral.

Attorney general Loretta Lynch read a letter from President Barack Obama that described the effect on the nation after hijacked planes struck the twin 110-storey towers of the World Trade Centre, causing their collapse.

The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York, USA, in 2001 Photo: AP Photo/Kelley Sane
The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York, USA, in 2001 Photo: AP Photo/Kelley Sane
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: Smoke pours from the twin towers of the World Trade Center after they were hit by two hijacked airliners in a terrorist attack September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

"We remember that no act of terror can match the character of our country, change who we are as Americans or overcome our enduring resolve to be each other's keepers in times of calm and crisis alike," the letter said.

In a service presided over by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, mayor Bill de Blasio noted that the firefighters killed ranged in age from 22 to 71.

He said everyone in New York that day suffered, but none more than members of the Fire Department of New York.

"We remember what the members of the FDNY did in the face of something that could not be imagined. They showed selflessness. They showed courage," he said. "When we needed them most they showed us the best, the best in humanity."

Mr de Blasio said the firefighters "did things that day that most of us could not fathom. They rushed to danger, not from it."

The mayor also noted that some firefighters died after 9/11 from diseases linked to the contaminated air they were exposed to that day and that others are still alive but suffering.

NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 13, 2011: Fire and rescue workers search through the rubble of the World Trade Center. Photo: BETH A. KEISER/AFP/Getty Images
NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 13, 2011: Fire and rescue workers search through the rubble of the World Trade Center. Photo: BETH A. KEISER/AFP/Getty Images

The massive Roman Catholic cathedral was filled to capacity for the service with city dignitaries, firefighters and families of those killed.

A procession into the cathedral featured a banner with the number 343, followed by firefighters carrying US flags representing every member of the department killed that day.

The collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11 2001 claimed the lives of 343 members of the Fire Department of New York
The collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11 2001 claimed the lives of 343 members of the Fire Department of New York

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