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F.D.N.Y. -- Funeral Schedule (10/20--11/11)
F.D.N.Y. and sister ^ | 10/19/01 | F.D.N.Y.

Posted on 10/19/2001 9:25:19 AM PDT by Askel5

Every day the Daily News publishes a list of memorials.

Try to get to one.

They died trying to get to us.

Lenora Skenazy

Firefighters from around the nation
salute a fallen hero, Capt. Joseph Farrelly.




With nearly a dozen funeral/memorial services scheduled for the next two Saturdays and one or several scheduled nearly every day through November 11, 2001, it is hoped that FReepers will find the time to show their respect and gratitude by attending a service or two.

F.D.N.Y.
Schedule of Services & Memorials

Given that some of these services are being held nearly two months -- to the day, even -- past September 11, I think chances are good the families of these men will not have quite the turnout others did in the wake of the WTC tragedy.

In case you are at all apprehensive about attending, I offer below some observations and thoughts by my sister who -- looking to "do something" and turned away by many volunteer agencies already inundated with help -- decided to begin paying her respects in person when and where she could.

Even after attending several services, she'd been concerned she might not be allowed into the funeral for Donald Burns at St. Patrick's Cathedral. So, standing outside, she and others waited as the last of family and firemen filed in the front door and then moved to slip quietly in the side door.

Suddenly a cop came flying out of nowhere. Afraid they were going to be turned away, she was relieved to find he only wanted to open the side door for them. Finding it locked, he jumped on his radio and ordering someone inside to "Get over here and open the doors and let the people in."

(After some confusion and repeated replies that "the side doors are open," New York's finest rolled his eyes in disgust and barked into his radio: "Hey ... how 'bout you just open the door I'm knocking on" and tapped until the locks were turned.)

New Yorkers not only are welcome, they are ENCOURAGED to please attend. As you will see from my sister's last report, these brave men and women end up selfless and serving OTHERS to the very end.

A Few Services A Week to Honor Our Fallen Heroes

Braving the Heat -- NYC Firefighters Carry On with 300 Brothers Missing

Some impressions I asked her to write down for me after laughing and crying as I listened to her tell me about the funerals for Brian Lake, Billy McDonnell and a most extraordinary man: Donald Burns.

I started attending the funerals for cops and firefighters lost on September 11th as a simple show of respect. I thought of it as something I could do for them. The first few services, when I stood outside, unable to enter the crowded church, left me solemn and reflective. That changed last week.

I've shared in a few Masses, heard the words of loved ones and colleagues, watched the reactions of other strangers present and the effect has been nothing short of miraculous. I know the city has a long way to go towards healing. I know we probably never will heal completely. I know every time I pass Ground Zero, or a firehouse or police station draped in black and purple, or the tattered "MISSING" flyers still posted around town, I am reminded of what evil men can do - - what unbearable suffering they can inflict.

But every service I attend tells me there are better men. Those who so love life they take the most active role they can in living their own life and protecting those of others. I speak not only of those being laid to rest but of the thousands who come to salute them.

You cannot watch these men and women honor their own and not be moved -- and humbled. I know I can no longer look at them without thinking of what they would do and have done for any of us at a moment's notice. I have left each service increasingly confident that mankind is capable of the greatest of goods, the deepest understanding and the highest dignity.

I realize now that even in death, these people are still helping us -- allowing us to put names and faces on our collective grief and inspiring us with the lives they led.


Donald J. Burns, Assistant Chief of Department and City-wide Tour Commander was remembered last week in a beautiful service at St. Patrick's as a man with a life-long love of the New York Fire Department.

The priest related a story told to him by another firefighter, who showed up for his first day on the job years ago and was given a top-to-bottom tour of the station by a young Donald Burns – a very young Donald Burns - - 16, to be exact and not yet a fireman himself but the son of a battalion chief and already as well-acquainted with the station as anyone who worked there.

Commissioner Von Essen told the congregation that Burns had considered retirement five times but was always convinced to stay on so the Department could continue to benefit from his unparalleled knowledge and experience. ("Let's ask Donald - - he'll know" was cited as the usual response to any questions that arose over the years.)

Burns still came into Manhattan for 24 hour shifts but cherished the time spent watching sunsets out at his "retirement" home where he volunteered in his free time with the local fire department. (I’d have given anything to see the faces of the men who knew they’d have to “train” Donald Burns in order for him to serve as a volunteer member of the department!)

Mayor Guiliani offered condolences and thanks to the Burns family on behalf of himself, the entire department and a city of "8 million grateful people."


Saturday's service for Billy Lake, of Rescue 2, also celebrated a man with a lifelong love of the job. Lake's uncle remembered that Billy and his friends were always hanging around their local firehouse as kids and the firemen there didn't mind. What they did mind, he added, were the number of times these kids would beat them to the scene of the fire.

They played a song at his Mass by the group Alabama called "Angels Among Us." The program stated the song was chosen "at Billy's request." This tiny notation revealed how cognizant he was of the daily possibility of death even while his friends and relatives described a man who lived a full and exuberant life to the very end.

On September 9, Billy Lake's entire family gathered for a joyous celebration of his mother's 75th birthday. On September 10, Rescue 2 cooked up a feast in honor of Lake's 20 years of service, where the men spent hours laughing and swapping stories of their years together. By the following morning, 15 current and former members of Rescue 2 would be listed among the dead and missing.


"If I die now, I would die a happy man."

That's what Brian McDonnell said to his wife, Maggie, just weeks before he was lost at the World Trade Center. Maggie McDonnell spoke with such grace, love and courage at her husband Brian's memorial last week that the moment she finished, the entire congregation rose as one and applauded her.

Brian was a police officer with the Emergency Services Unit. There was a picture of him near the altar which had been featured some time ago in the New York Post - - a big guy, in his ESU uniform, smiling ear to ear and holding the tiny "victim" he'd just rescued - - a terrified kitten. ("Of all the jobs we've done, THAT's the one that makes the paper?" a friend quoted him as saying.)

Brian's daughter, Katie, drew her own picture of her father - - an angel in an NYPD uniform pulling a victim out of the rubble. Some of his fellow officers have laminated copies of her drawing to keep for themselves.


I cannot thank our city officials enough for inviting us to attend these memorials and funerals.

It has been and continues to be a moving and healing experience. Even more incredible is the obvious ripple effect this hour of grief has had upon our city. There are a thousand tiny miracles of compassion taking place here every day:

  • A group of teenagers boarded a train full of firemen returning from Saturday's service. One of the girls shyly approached the men and whispered, "we're very sorry for your loss." They thanked her graciously.

  • A police officer, seeing a woman overcome with emotion at a funeral in Brooklyn, put his arm around her and comforted her. They had introduced themselves to each other just a few moments before.

  • A member of my church choir, frustrated by her many attempts in vain to volunteer last month, suddenly decided to refocus her efforts. She's taken a weekly shift in our parish soup kitchen.

  • In Brooklyn Heights, I was unable to get in to a crowded service for Ladder 118 and Engine 205 so I went to a diner to wait. The woman next to me at the lunch counter kept staring at 3 tables of firemen nearby. Soon, she whispered instructions to our waiter and he complied, delivering the firemen's checks to her. She paid them all, tipped the man and slipped quietly out the side door.

You see or hear of things like this happening every day. While utterly sick at the cause of it, I am no less grateful for the effect. A true reminder that Good does indeed always and ultimately triumph over Evil.

On a more personal note, I found out Saturday that Billy Lake and other members of Rescue 2 had received commendations for their work in Oklahoma City. Having grown up in Oklahoma, I was glad to be there to honor them.

I regret not having acted on my initial impulse from years ago -- to find these teams who went to Oklahoma, to meet them, shake their hands and thank them in person. I don't think any of us will ever let such an opportunity pass again.



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To: Askel5
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give it a try.
51 posted on 10/20/2001 6:30:40 PM PDT by ELS
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]


52 posted on 10/20/2001 9:01:56 PM PDT by Askel5
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 51 | View Replies]

To: Senator Pardek
Sorry about the game last night.

Just setting themselves up for the big comeback, I'm sure.

53 posted on 10/28/2001 11:58:23 AM PST by mark60
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 49 | View Replies]


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