As the nation prepares to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the New York City Fire Department has added 43 new names to its World Trade Center Memorial Wall commemorating firefighters, paramedics and civilian support staff members who have died from illnesses related to the rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of one of the darkest days in U.S. history.
The additions to the memorial wall bring the total number of FDNY members who have succumbed to post-9/11 illnesses to 331, which is nearly equal to the number of firefighters killed in the Twin Towers on the day of the attacks.
The new names were unveiled at a ceremony on Wednesday and represent the second largest group to be added to the memorial wall since it was created 12 years ago with 55 names.
New York Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh told relatives of those being added to the wall that their loved ones died as "heroes."
"As we approach the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, the FDNY continues to feel the impact of that day," Kavanagh said at the ceremony in Lower Manhattan. "Each year, this memorial wall grows as we honor those who gave their lives in service of others. These brave men and women showed up that day, and in the days and months following the attacks to participate in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site. We will never forget them."
Many of those added to the wall Wednesday have died within the past year, officials said.
"There's no consolation, no words. There's nothing we can say to replace the pain that they sustained in the experience throughout the years as we mourn further and further away from the September 11th attacks," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at the service. "But they are heroes, not only those who were in the building, but those who responded after."
The inscription on the wall, which was dedicated in 2011, reads that the memorial is "dedicated to the memory of those who bravely served this department protecting life and property in the City of New York in the rescue and recovery effort at Manhattan Box 5-5-8087 World Trade Center."
"These events remind us of the promises we made to all of you and the never-ending dedication we have made to your loved ones," Kavanaugh said. "These events are symbols of our support and at their core, they are based in love and respect."
She said the fallen FDNY members "lived with honor, humility and bravery and that is how they spent their last days fighting cancer and other illnesses that would eventually take their lives."
During the ceremony, the photos and names of the FDNY members being added to the wall were flashed on screens.
Those to be added to the memorial wall are Firefighter Dennis J. Komar, EMS Capt. Faye Baughman, EMS Lt. Gloria Gordon, Lt. Baudon C. Malmbeck, Firefighter Russell Feliciano, Dr. Sabina B. Ostolski, EMT Steven Thorsen, Lt. Arthur J. Darby, Firefighter Richard C. Toshack, Supervising Fire Marshal James E. Devery, Firefighter Edward V. Hronec, Firefighter Michael J. Arriaga, Firefighter Thomas D. Healy, EMT Patricia Scaduto, Lt. Michael G. Hance, Lt. Donald J. Kelly and Firefighter Thomas J. McDougall.
Also being added to the wall are Marine Wiper Bruce Peat, Lt. Joseph Brosi, Battalion Chief James J. Hanley, Firefighter Victor A. Cantelmo, Battalion Chief Vincent G. Lyons, Capt. Paul W. Schmalzried, Firefighter Ronald J. Kirchner, Firefighter William M. Hughes, Firefighter Gregg Lawrence, Battalion Chief Joseph A. McKie, Lt. James F. McCauley, Jr., Battalion Chief Stephen J. Geraghty, Firefighter George J. Tripptree, Firefighter Peter A. Chiodo, Firefighter John F. McDonnell, Battalion Chief Brian E. O'Flaherty, paramedic Peter L. Bushey, paramedic Paul Daniels, Capt. Gary A. Nybro, Firefighter James C. Mager, Firefighter Douglas F. Harkins, Lt. Richard Kobbe, Fire Marshal Karl J. Sederholt, Lt. James J. Burns II, Firefighter Michael T. Costa and Capt. Neil R. Ferro.
Mayor Adams, a retired New York City police captain who responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11, said, "We often reflect on the 11th. But I also remember Sept. 12th."
"We got up," he said. "The entire country was watching news. We were the epicenter of the most hate that you witnessed on our soil, but we responded not by buckling to terrorism and terror, but by responding with the level of bravery that we are known for."