A new banner unveiled outside Borough Hall on September 7 honors the lives lost on that tragic day. It will be displayed yearly on the anniversary of the attacks.
“I'll never forget that evening,” said Borough President Eric Adams, who was a police officer at the time. “We will not be remembered by the falling of buildings on 9/11. We will be remembered by rising of a nation on 9/12.”
Joseph Vigiano, an NYPD detective, and his brother John Vigiano, a 36-year-old Brooklyn firefighter, perished that day.
“Joe died on September 11th doing what he loved,” said his widow, Kathleen Vigiano.
She said his squad had received an evacuation order, but he stayed in the building for a few minutes longer to help more people before it collapsed. In the days after September 11, she and others waited for their loved ones to come home.
“None of our family members came to headquarters,” she said. “I called everyone I knew looking for him. His cellphone was found so I thought maybe he was at the hospital.”
The couple’s eldest son and Joseph’s namesake is carrying on the family legacy as an officer with the 75th Precinct, where his mother also worked as a police officer. At the ceremony, he wore his father’s badge.
The saddest part of the anniversary of that day for the Vigiano family is recalling all the family milestones the father of three boys – Joe, Jimmy and John – missed over the years. John, their youngest, was born just months before September 11.
“He missed Joey and Jim becoming Eagle Scouts,” Vigiano said. “He missed John’s whole life. He missed Joe becoming a cop, wearing his shield and changing in the same locker room. He missed both boys becoming Marines. He missed looking for colleges.”
Both Vigiano brothers were among the hundreds of first responders killed on September 11, but hundreds more have died since the attacks.
According to the FDNY, a total of 159 members of the department alone have succumbed to World Trade Center-related illnesses over the past 16 years, including 32 this year.
Their names were added to the FDNY World Trade Center Memorial Wall in a ceremony on September 7.
“The 32 members we remember this year were without question brave,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. “They were dedicated and compassionate, and they performed their duties, selflessly and courageously.”