On Tuesday, only weeks after the anniversary of 9/11, over 300 probationary firefighters graduated from the New York Fire Department’s training academy. Of those 300 men and women, 21 are “continuing their family’s legacy.”
“Many of their fathers were killed on September 11th, several others died of World Trade Center illnesses, and others lost their lives in the course of their duty, bravely working to save and protect others,” New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Tuesday in a news release from the Fire Department of the City of New York.
“Today, these 21 legacies are no longer children dreaming of their careers their fathers loved, and of serving in the world’s greatest fire department – today, they have fully achieved their dreams.”
“They’re continuing their family’s legacy of service,” Nigro added, according to the New York Post.
For 15 of those “legacy” firefighters, the graduation date being so close to the 18th anniversary of 9/11 added a deeper sense of pride because they lost a family member due to their service on that tragic day 18 years ago.
Rebecca and Marc Asaro were only 9 and 7 years old when the terrorist attacks happened and their father answered the call. Sadly, he never came home.
The brother and sister, however, remember how supportive other members of the FDNY were in the years after their father’s death.
“The guys were stepping up and just always there, whatever we needed. And it just continued for years,” Rebecca told CBS News.
Graduating from the Fire Academy was their way of continuing their dad’s legacy.
“Every day that I came to the academy, I was grateful to be there and to follow in the footsteps of my father, brothers, uncle, and all those who came before,” Rebecca said, according to FDNY.
“This is exactly where I want to be.”
Her brother echoed, “It is an amazing experience, to be able to do the same thing that my father had done, and had given his life for.”
“It’s more incredible that my sister and I are doing it together. It’s a proud feeling.”
Brendan Regan, 30, who also lost his father on 9/11, told the New York Post he was going to try to approach his new career the same way his father did.
“Of course I miss my dad all the time but I know he’d be happy for me,” Regan said. “I think my dad just set the bar high. The things he did that day, he was just going to work that day. I’m just trying to do the same things on this job.”
Twenty-four-year-old Michael Florio is going to serve at the same stationhouse his father was stationed before his death on 9/11.
“I’ve been in and out of that house since I was young,” Florio said. “His picture is all over that firehouse. It’s more of a motivating thing than a sad thing.”
According to WPIX-TV, 13 of the legacy graduates were children of firefighters who died on 9/11, one graduate is the son of an NYPD officer who died on 9/11 and another graduate’s firefighter father died years later due to 9/11-related brain cancer.
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