More than 300 FDNY probationary firefighters processioned around the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial on Friday to pay tribute to fallen members of the department and to take in the enormity of the space and the events that unfolded here 16 years ago.
Bagpipers and a drummer played “Amazing Grace” and “America the Beautiful” as John Palombo, a probie class legacy, and class representative Daniel Bergin laid a wreath in memory of the 343 members of the FDNY who were killed in the line of duty on 9/11.
Following the tribute, the probies were led into the Museum to explore the artifacts and exhibitions on view. Anthony Gardner, senior vice president for government and community affairs at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, formally welcomed the probies to the site.
The 9/11 Memorial receives visits from two FDNY probie classes per year. To date, more than 3,000 participants have visited the plaza.
Recordo Demetrius, an 11-year veteran firefighter and a drill instructor for the FDNY’s Probationary Fire School, emphasized that these visits go a long way in making the probies feel a part of the department.
“With this new generation of firefighters, we want to make sure that they understand that this is a location that’s hallowed to us,” said Demetrius. “Some of these guys were kids, literally, when this happened, so it’s definitely a part of our history that they should understand. And we want to show our respect.”
John Palombo is a former docent at the 9/11 Memorial Museum and son of Frank Palombo, a 22-year veteran of the FDNY who was killed on September 11.
Being at the 9/11 Memorial again as a legacy probie is a special experience for Palombo. “I feel close to my dad, I feel close to the fire department,” he said. “And this is a place where everybody feels what I feel every day. […] It doesn’t matter what you speak, where you’re from, everybody understands the pain and respects the loss. With the FDNY, it’s even stronger, being back here.”
By 9/11 Memorial Staff