Nine Years On, It’s Time to Take Back 9/11

Today, we remember those lost on 9/11/01.  The photos above are of our local firemen from Engine Company 205 / Ladder Company 118 “Fire Under the Bridge”,  who rushed to the scene and never returned:

Lt. Joseph Agnello

Firefighter Vernon Cherry

Firefighter Scott Davidson

Firefighter Leon Smith Jr.

Firefighter Peter Vega

Lt. Robert Wallace

Lt. Robert Regan

Captain Martin Egan

Nine years later  those seeking personal gain, have wrapped themselves in the 9/11 anniversary flaunting their ignorance while contradicting everything for which America stands.  These opportunists, cynics, racists and  xenophobes believe that dropping  “9/11″ into a sentence makes  any statement —  no matter how outrageous, false, divisive or hateful — totally bulletproof and even worse –  patriotic.

On the 7th anniversary, we wrote about the firemen Brooklyn Heights lost fighting the fires at Ground Zero.  The comments made on that post exemplify how this day needs to be remembered.  Raise a glass, fight the good fight for each individual we lost on that day.  Democracy and our way of life need not be compromised.   Those who seek to divide us, incite us or distract us on this day are nothing more than agents acting in the best interest of our enemies.

As for what’s important here are some of our neighbors’ comments and their memories from that 2008 post.  Feel free to add more in the comments below:

Nabeguy commented in 2008:

I can still recall clearly the booming voice of Mo Cherry as his songs echoed off the tile walls of the firehouse, and the urgency with which Express Smith would stand in front of the firehouse with his nose in the air sniffing out work, the jocularity of “The Dog” Davidson as he teased and cajoled his comrades These memories and these men will always remain in my heart and mind.

Tim N. commented:

Thanks, Nabeguy… apparently Lt. Agnello was nicknamed “Joey Bells” because he accidentally set off an alarm early in his tenure at the house.

For those of you who don’t know, FF Cherry was the official tenor of the FDNY. FF Smith got the nickname “Express” because, as the driver of Engine 205, he was hellbent and determined to be the first truck on any scene.

When my daughter was in preschool over at ILC on Monroe Place, the big class trip was to the firehouse. I always made sure I got to chaperone that trip. The guys in the house were always great. They gave the kids a tour of the firehouse and then gave the kids cookies. They then turned to me and asked me if I wanted one, I said “no, save them for the kids.” So they showed me one of their cabinets; it had more Oreos and Chips Ahoys than the Nabisco plant. I just laughed and said, “You guys sure love your cookies.”

This was in the spring of 2001. Sadly, I scanned the pictures of the men above on the eleventh and remembered a few. That’s why my wife and I left a box of Chips Ahoys at the memorial.

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  • Andy

    Since your blog is primarily a news site, I don’t think it’s right to editorialize! You should leave it to the readers in their comments. I think you should delete the second and third paragraph of your post.

  • David G.

    But it’s not an editorial when it is a fact. Also, does anyone else hear the bagpipes playing at 5 AM? It sounds like they are coming from cadman plaza.

  • AEB

    Take 9-11 back, indeed! From the pietistic ranters with an agenda, such as the morally monstrous “pastor,” whose name I refuse to mention. From all those who would cast the event as a battle of religions.

    It was horrible. We can’t forget it, nor should we. But we must also move on.

  • Doug Biviano

    Thank you for a great post Homer and all the others who shared their wonderful posts.

  • Matthew Parker

    Homer, I agree with your opinion, and thank you for sharing your “editorializing” on your site.

    I’d also add that I agree with Fareed Zacharia and Ted Koppel, who have both recently wrote against the United States’ overreaction to the events of 9/11/01.

    Both articles are worth a read and consideration:

    Zacharia’s piece:

    We need to stop playing into the hands of Al Qaeda and related criminal extremists, which at no point were more than a few hundred people.

    We did not control what they did to us nine years ago, but we can control our own actions going forward, whether it’s unnecessary vanity wars in countries that had no connection whatsoever with 9/11, or dancing with snakes “preachers” who seek to turn the efforts of a few hundred criminals into a battle of civilizations.

    Some of our reactions to the events of 9/11 over the past nine years have benefitted the murderous criminals of Al Qaeda beyond their wildest dreams.

  • The3rdMan

    But you are using it as well to push your version of America. Thats just human nature.

    And the bagpipes crossed the Brooklyn Bridge this morning. recorded from my apartment:

  • Obama?

    We owe it to our heroes to persevere further into the why & how of what really happened that fateful day!

  • erica doyle

    Thinking of those brave souls today, and their families.

  • Nick

    In addition to the eight brave fire fighters from Middagh Street who lost their lives, let’s also raise a toast to the Brooklyn Heights residents we lost on that terrible day. Here’s to you NIgel – you’ll never be forgotten!

  • Obama?

    Wow, nine years later, and you still have to censor my post!?

  • EHinBH

    My wife and I woke to the bagpipes as well this morning. Such a sad day. I was across the street at World Financial Center on 9/11 and my colleague and friend was killed while at a meeting in one of the towers.

    This nation did not overreact. Not at all. For a time — and for the first time I can ever remember — this country actually came together to voice a collective concern and acted on it. My feeling is that as one of the world’s leaders we can not allow dictatorships of hatred go on and breed killers. Aggressive acts were necc — and, I feel, still are. Just because time and money are spent without visible change to some, does not mean you change your mind and walk away.

  • Lynda


    Thank you for this (entire) post, and thanks to those men and the people like them who just look out for others no matter what.

    ♥ and peace.

  • Jorale-man

    Homer and Matthew are absolutely right. America reacted by attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 while turning the country into a place where the crazies and bigots have come to define the terms of public discourse.

    I was at the gym this morning and the monitors had the network news coverage of the WTC ceremony. Most of their talking heads were not scholars or serious news analysts but a rogue’s gallery of opportunists and nut-jobs – Rudy Giuliani, the preacher from Florida, etc. Rather sad that’s what this day has turned into…

  • Yann

    There are editorial pieces in all newspapers… Why should the author sensor himself on delete some paragraphs? News is never 100% objective… Which facts are reported are already a form of bias.

    It’s crazy that in this day and age some people are still uncomfortable with the idea of free speech, when it’s about something they don’t agree with.

    Don’t delete anything! :)

  • hicks st guy

    the pig Giuliani politicized 9/11 as soon as he could. made a reputation (undeserved) on it. perhaps if his police commissioner had not been refused full intelligence clearance due to his unsavory background, things may have been different. and let us not forget Rudy assuring the workers in the pit “the air is safe”. workers have died since, thanks to that reassurance.

  • WillowtownCop

    I oppose the mosque at ground zero. It doesn’t make me a racist, a bigot, a right wing lunatic, or un-American. It has nothing to do with hating peaceful Muslims or being intolerant. I just think that the people who knocked the towers down and murdered thousands of innocent people and their supporters who danced in the streets when the towers fell would have wanted it there, and that’s enough of a reason not to put it there.

    I also don’t like that the guy who’s building it owes hundreds of thousands in taxes and no one is asking why he doesn’t have to pay it before he builds or buys anything at all. I don’t like the veiled threat he made that the extremists wouldn’t like it if the mosque wasn’t built. And I don’t understand why everyone is so interested in being tolerant of people who treat women, gays, jews, etc. so badly. If I felt like EVERYONE would be welcomed at the mosque maybe I would be more likely to welcome it.

    Ultimately, it’s a private building on private property and they can build it if they want. That doesn’t mean I or anyone one else can’t exercise our right to free speech and protest it being there as long as it is within the bounds of the law. And disagreeing with people who support the mosque doesn’t make us ignorant and it doesn’t make us racists.

  • Jack the Lad

    Yes, cop I defend your right to open your mouth and prove how ignorant you are.

    What I’d really like to see is a reinstatement of the height and weight requirements at the NYPD. Short and fat cops are no protection against tyranny.

  • WillowtownCop

    I disagree with Jack.

    Therefore, I’m ignorant.

    Oh, and fat, too.

    I bet the mosque supporters are happy to have such a brilliant orator in their camp.

  • WillowtownCop

    And Jack-

    What did you do to help your fellow New Yorkers on 9/11? What have you ever done to help them? Next time you call 911, be sure to tell the operator what your height and weight requirements are for the cops who come to help you, no matter how short or fat you are, no matter what race or religion you are, or no matter how stupid the comments you post on the internet are.

  • hicks st guy

    you’re whack, Jack. the police fight crime,
    you mention tyranny? wtf?
    willowtown, admit it, there are a lot of portly
    boys in blue, would not want to see them run
    after a perp. but Jack is really off base.

  • WillowtownCop

    Jack’s comment had absolutely nothing to do with the discussion. He thought trying to insult someone was a good way to win an argument. But I will respond to Hicks St, off topic or not-

    there are standards to pass the academy but the problem is there is no periodic retesting after graduation. Most cops are in shape- some are not. Height and weight requirements also have very little to do with who you want by your side in the middle of an angry mob- the 300 pound linebacker or the 110 pound weakling who is skinny enough for the arbitrary cut off? Good police work is more about knowing what’s going on on your post, who the players are, where to go to find the person who you’re looking for, knowing what information is important and what’s not, being able to prepare reports and testify competently, having good judgement, etc. than being able to run after some teenager who was smoking a joint. I would be more concerned about the intelligence standards than the fitness standards.

  • Miky

    Cop- A cultural center built by Suffis in lower Manhattan will, if anything, be a thumb in the eye of radical Sunnis. Initially Fox commentators had this right (and then they got it wrong). I doubt you are ignorant, but I suspect (like many in the US) that you don’t know much about Islam. Would Opus Dei style Catholics rejoice if Unitarians built a large church in Manhattan? No. It has nothing to do with them. In fact, they might resent it because its style of Christianity is potentially an affront to the Opus Dei approach.

  • WillowtownCop

    I’m a devout atheist. I don’t know or care anything at all about fairytales- christian, jewish, muslim, or otherwise. I would oppose a church or a temple being built in a place that would divide the community as well. And that’s exactly what religion does- it divides people. When do we re-evaluate our beliefs and see that we’re getting further and further away from the point? Maybe when the mosque was first proposed it was intended to be something different than what people now see it as- which is a “we don’t care who it upsets, we’re putting it here anyway” center.

    As I said before- it’s their property, and they can put whatever they want there. And the people who don’t want it there have a constitutionally protected right to picket the place and say what they think of it. Some of them are certainly bigots, but not all of them are. I just don’t like the attitude of people who say, “if you don’t support the mosque, you are an ignorant racist.” It’s just exactly the same thing as saying “if you do support the mosque, you are unpatriotic.”

    And by “oppose” I mean I care enough about it to devote part of an evening posting a few comments on a web page- nothing more. I won’t be out there screaming on the news or lighting anything on fire. I may take a minute to mourn the loss of the Dakota Roadhouse (and its cheeseburger fries) next door to the building, should it meet an untimely demise because of this mess.

  • Kim G

    I still can’t imagine the pain of being in New York on September 11,2001 but feel that my family was personally touched as my husband returned home from the WTC Marriott just the week before. It’s sad to think how such a tragic event has brought many of us together as friends, neighbors and most importantly a community that I’m proud to be a part of.

    Thanks Homer

  • AAR

    How sad! Most of the entries above have moved so far off the initial topic of taking back September 11th that they make the case for the need that initiated the topic. I think that this day this year was especially poignant because it was so much like that day in 2001 – such a clear, cloudless intensely blue sky. Anyone who listened to the reciting of names and watched the photos of those who died on 911 had to once again appreciate the diversity of those human beings, from so many countries and faith traditions. The still raw grief of family and friends was painful to watch. But, watch we should on this date each year. How should we observe that terrible day and loss that changed our lives and brought into sharp focus the “get even” mentality of our country? In addition to the moving ceremony at Ground Zero, here are some of the ways people in Brooklyn Heights honored the dead and remembered a day that should unite us as it did briefly nine years ago. Early in the morning there were flowers in front of the Middagh Street firehouse; flowers appeared at the photograph on the Promenade at the Montague Street entrance; someone refreshed the “Broken” wreath also on the Promenade; Barge Music held a lovely, reflective concert (see today’s NY Times review); at least two churches held memorial services; and many people gathered in the evening on and near the Promenade to quietly appreciate the wonderful tribute in light to the Twin Towers.

  • Teddie Boy Eddie

    It definitely made me sad on Saturday to pass by all of the loonies and other self-serving cretins on my way to the PATH train. In previous years, it seemed like the day was set aside for reflecting and there was a certain somber feeling. But, this being an election year, and one in which the masses appear to be easily whipped into a frenzy by politicians and money-grubbing populists alike, I suppose it’s not too surprising.

    Also, @Andy, this is a blog, hence editorializing, as you called it … i call it a blog post … is appropriate.