Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In a Town Famous As a Place of Movie Scenes

Thirteen days from today is the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, which occurred on September 11, 2001.  Our very own 21st Century "day that shall live in infamy".  Lucky us.  In his masterpiece Downtown:  My Manhattan the great Pete Hamill wrote, "Sentimentality is always about a lie.  Nostalgia is about real things gone.  Nobody truly mourns a lie."   In this space - for the next two weeks - a nostalgic journey shall take place.  Each piece will contain links to more information about the persons mentioned in it than is found here.  It shall also include a piece of music that perhaps no one other than me associates with these events. 

Life is indeed an experience that must be lived forward.  Yet unless we remain ever mindful of from whence we came, we never really know where we are going or how best to get there.  The importance of preservation of important things cannot be overstated.  

Gerard A. Barbara held the rank of Assistant Deputy Chief of the FDNY.  On September 11th he was the Citywide Tour Commander.  He was among the 343 members of the FDNY who died at the World Trade Center.  Chief Barbara was 53 years old.  According to the tribute that the New York Times published, he was walking toward the lobby of the second trade center tower when the building collapsed.   Chief Barbara was survived by his wife Joanne and two children.   His son, Paul, was twenty-three at the time of his dad's death.  Caren Barbara, twenty-five at the time of her dad's death, is the older of the Chief's two children. If you watched the exquisite HBO documentary, "Nine Innings From Ground Zero" then you had the opportunity to become acquainted with Caren.  She was part of the fan caravan that zig-zagged the country with Mayor Giuliani supporting the Yankees in the 2001 World Series against the Diamondbacks.  

Deputy Chief Raymond Downey was a member of the FDNY for thirty-nine years, having joined the Department in April 1962 after serving as a United States Marine.  For ten years prior to his death on September 11, 2001 he served as Deputy Chief of Special Operations Command.  His accomplishments on the job were nothing short of legendary.  His search-and-rescue skills and techniques were so well-respected and in such high demand that he and his team assisted in major operations throughout the United States, including the operation in Oklahoma City following the bombing of the federal building there. 

But Deputy Chief Downey was interested in saving lives even when was was not wearing his turnout gear.  In keeping with that spirit, his family established the Deputy Chief Raymond Downey Scholarship Charity Fund and in the almost eleven years since his death, the Charity Fund has provided financial assistance to the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation, The Marty Lyons Foundation, Inc., Our Lady of Rosary Knights of Columbus, FF Thomas Elsasser Fund, as well as providing scholarships for Deer Park High School Student Athletes.   In addition to being an almost superhuman presence in the FDNY, Ray Downey was a husband of forty years to his wife Rosalie, a father of five children - including two sons (Joseph and Chuck) both of whom followed in his footsteps in the FDNY and seven grandchildren.

Terence Hatton was a Captain in the FDNY - in charge of Rescue Company 1 - when he died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011.  At the time of his death, he had been on the job for twenty years.  His squad - Rescue Company 1 - was based out of Times Square in the center of Manhattan and was an elite group of roughly two dozen firefighters whose job was to perform rescues and who typically answered as many as ten calls a day.   Hatton was only forty-one years young when he was killed and was survived by his with Beth who worked at City Hall for Mayor Giuliani.  Giuliani eulogized Hatton at his funeral as, "City Hall's resident hero.  He reminded me of Joe DiMaggio:  quiet, self-determined, confident.  He could have been a movie star, but if he had been a movie star, he would have been playing roles like Terry Hatton." 

Terry and Beth Hatton had no children at the time of his death.  Beth learned on September 12, 2001 that she was pregnant with the couple's first child.  On May 15, 2002 Beth Hatton gave birth to a daughter who she named Terri in honor of her husband and the father who Terri never got to meet but who she shall have the chance to get to know if only to a degree.

....what other place would have had so many brave individuals to send into harm's way so that countless others could get out of it?


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