Saturday, October 06, 2001

Rescuers' fate hits hard

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — An American flag draped over the back of the Florence Fire Department's Engine 101 flapped in the warm autumn breeze.

        The mournful message of a single bagpipe whined in the distance.

        And a steady procession of firefighters, police officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and civilians marched up the steps to Covington's Mother of God Church late Friday morning to remember the fallen.

[photo] Mourners file past a long list of New York City's missing and dead rescue workers.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
| ZOOM |
        “We are here,” said bagpipe player Josh Quinn, a Boone County deputy sheriff, “out of a sense of duty.”

        They came from Covington and Cincinnati, from Elsmere and Walton, from Paris in Kentucky and Gary in Indiana, all to pray, mourn, respect and remember the emergency workers killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

        “We came to express our solidarity for our brothers and sisters,” the Rev. Ray Hartman, pastor of the downtown Covington parish, said during the homily. “For they gave their lives so bravely so that others could be safe.”

        The service, attended by about 70 emergency service personnel from three states, was organized by Michael Fronimos, a firefighter and EMT with the Hebron Fire Protection District in Boone County and a member of Mother of God Parish.

        “I wanted to go to New York to help, but obviously I have duties and obligations here,” Mr. Fronimos, 32, said prior to the 90-minute service.

        “But I wanted to, I just had to, do something,” he said. “And I know other people in fire and police departments all over the area feel the same. So we wanted to come together to pray for them and to deal with our sense of loss.

        “They all knew there was danger when they went in those buildings,” Mr. Fronimos said. “We always do. But they went to save lives. And they lost theirs.”

        The names of the nearly 400 firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel who were killed or missing in the attack were printed on posters at the church entrance. The names reached from New York firefighter Joseph Angello of Ladder Co. 118, who was listed as missing, to Raymond York of Engine Co. 285, who is “confirmed dead.”

        Mindy Sticklen, 51, grew up knowing about the risks. Her father, brothers and friends work in fire and police departments in Bracken County and Alexandria.

        “I came here today mainly because they couldn't be here,” said Ms. Sticklen, a nurse from Cold Spring. “I wanted to show support.

        “These guys are out on the front lines every day, every time there is an emergency,” she said. “If anything can come out of this tragedy it's that people are going to appreciate more the job they do.”

        Anthony and Lillian LoBuono came from Hamilton for the service.

        “We're here to pray for the heroes,” Mr. LoBuono said.

        The service included readings by Covington Police Chief Tom Schonecker and Rick Albers, chief of the North Oldham Fire Department near Louisville.

        Karen Bruce, a firefighter and EMT from Florence who spent time working with the World Trade Center Rescue effort, read the EMT Prayer just after Officer Greg Toyeas of the Cincinnati police gave the Police Officers Prayer.

        The most emotional moment came toward the end of the service when a somber silence was broken by the Hamilton County Bag Pipe and Drum Corps, which filled the cavernous church with “Amazing Grace.”

        As the song played, a firefighter dabbed his eyes with the white glove of his dress uniform. Many wept quietly, a few openly.

        But the overriding message of the service was to not just mourn the fallen, but to make sure their contributions and sacrifices are never forgotten.

        “As time passes, we will continue to tell with pride,” said Capt. Tom Sellmer, of the Clarksville, Ind., Fire Department, “the story of our brothers and sisters.

        “Let our message be ... that we will never forget you.”


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