Remembering First Responder Yamel Josefina Merino
Yamel Josefina Merino was just 24 years old on Sept. 11, 2001, but she had already earned accolades and respect for her work as a first responder.
Interpreting the Last Column: In this series, 9/11 Memorial & Museum exhibitions staff share the stories behind the markings and tributes placed on the Last Column. The Last Column was the final piece of steel to be removed from the World Trade Center site marking the completion of the nine-month recovery period. A symbol of resilience and marker of loss, it now stands in the Museum’s Foundation Hall bearing its memorial tributes. If you signed or left a tribute on the column and would like to share your story, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the morning of 9/11, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3, a New York City chapter, were working for firms across the World Trade Center complex. Some members were stationed on the 95th and 105th floors of the North Tower, the 90th and 105th floors of the South Tower and in the World Trade Center basement. In the collapse of the towers, Local 3 lost 17 electricians, more than any other local union of construction workers.
Members of Local 3 worked at Ground Zero during the rescue and recovery period. Their work included installing temporary lighting for nighttime search efforts. Additionally, the Local 3 Pipes and Drum band, known as the Sword of Light Band, played at several funeral services for construction workers and first responders killed as a result of the attacks.
Father Brian J. Jordan invited the Sword of Light Band to play at the St. Patrick’s Day Mass at Ground Zero on Sunday, March 17, 2002. The band marched into the service carrying Irish and American flags and singing Irish hymns.
During the Mass, Father Jordan gave a homily emphasizing the importance of tolerance. The day before, the New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade was dedicated to the rescue and recovery workers. As the parade marched along Fifth Avenue, participants stopped to turn around, facing the direction of Ground Zero to observe a moment of silence. With an estimated 300,000 marchers and 3,000,000 observers, it was the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City to date.
In May 2002, at the recovery period’s conclusion, IBEW Local 3 member Kevin Flynn left this marking on the Last Column to memorialize his union’s fallen members.
After the recovery period, more than 350 members of Local 3 worked on the construction of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. “The IBEW was there when the towers fell,” said Dennis Moran, a Local 3 member. “And we were there to build it back up.”
Seventeen members of Local 3 died in the attacks: Thomas J. Ashton, James Marcel Cartier, Robert John Caufield, Joseph Di Pilato, Salvatore Fiumefreddo, Harvey Robert Hermer, Ralph Michael Licciardi, Michael W. Lowe, Charles Peter Lucania, Lester V. Marino, Jose Angel Martinez Jr., Joseph M. Romagnolo, Anthony Segarra, Jeffrey James Shaw, Steven R. Strauss, Glenn J. Travers Sr. and Kenneth Wilburn White Jr.
By Emily Edwards, Collections and Exhibitions Coordinator, and Katherine Fleming, Exhibition Research Specialist, 9/11 Memorial Museum