HERO WILL BE HAUNTED BY MEMORIES FOREVER

Copyright 2002 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.
The New York Post...03/12/2002

DOUGLAS MONTERO

THE firefighter looked like a statue - traumatized stiff.

He sat alone in a sea of blue chairs for long minutes staring at the "Sphere," a battered piece of metal planted in Battery Park to commemorate 9/11.

He remained there even after the politicians stopped talking, even as the crowds began filing out. He sat there after he had been left by the crying woman - a total stranger who sat next him, whom he hugged.

"I gave her my handkerchief, too - I doubt I'll ever see it again," the firefighter said.

Firefighter Frank Signorelli, 45, stared at the holes, dents and bruises the terrorists inflicted on the "Sphere," on the city, its people, his fire-eating brothers, his mind.

The tears, the blood, the laughs, the misery - the memories peppered his brain at staccato pace.

"Who's going to take care of Marty's kids?" he thought about pal and 9/11 victim Capt. Martin Egan Jr. of Division 15.

Signorelli remembered dumping a pail of water over Egan's head many years ago when the captain was a "probie."

"Who's going to take care of John's kids?" he thought, referring to Rescue 5 firefighter John Bergin, a pal, a WTC victim, the basketball coach at the Staten Island Catholic school where he sends his two kids, 9 and 12.

"If I should die, who's going to take care of my kids?" thought Signorelli, who after 20 years is retiring at the end of the month.

Ground Zero, the bucket brigade, the dust, the confusion.

"The shoe I kicked out of the way, then I noticed the foot that was in it," he thought.

"For the past two months, I've been having the same dream," he said. "I'm running up these stairs until I go through a door, and I'm trying to catch an elevator - but I keep missing it.

"A few days ago, I almost caught it. The door was closing on my hands. But I felt something holding my foot back."

"When I woke up, the blanket was wrapped around my foot and my hand was sticking through the bed rail. My wife tells me I need a therapist.

"I'm going to. I have to.

"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about it," he said before walking away to catch the ferry back home nearly 90 minutes after the ceremony.




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