A BAPTISM OF RAIN TO HONOR A FALLEN CHIEF AMONG CHIEFS

By STEVE DUNLEAVY


May 27, 2003 -- IT WASN'T just rain, it was more like a vertical bath - but as far as the crowd was concerned, it was simply tears of joy and pride from the heavens.

Incredible that such a miserable day could host such a touching and glorious moment.

"The sun will always shine for Peter Ganci," said Congressman Peter King (R-L.I.).

Congressman King, together with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), a host of local dignitaries and hundreds and hundreds of firefighters, ignored the pounding torrent to honor a friend.

They were there at the Farmingdale post office to rename the building for Peter J. Ganci, the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the FDNY who died on that terrible September day.

Believe it or not, it wasn't all that easy to give the post office a hero's name - Congressman King pushed it through the House but it stalled in the Senate. King paid tribute to Sen. Clinton for finally getting it through.

Chief Ganci didn't die sending his troops to battle - he died leading them.

Ganci's widow, Kathleen, said:

"I never stopped thinking of him, but it will be a special feeling seeing his name there. He was a hell of a guy."

The whole family calls Farmingdale their home. Son Chris said: "We will miss his fun . . . He was like having your own comedy show."

Old buddy Ed Butler, a retired chief who hung with Ganci for 25 years, said: "We would play golf, drink a beer, smoke a cigar and when someone would ask him what he did for a living, he would simply say, 'I work for the Fire Department.' He said nothing about being the boss. He was very humble."

When I'm at the funerals of firefighters and cops - and I have been to way too many - I often find it hard to keep my bloodshot eyes dry.

But yesterday really was a celebration of this man. And there was something medicinal about it. Sometimes I feel - and I don't think I'm the only one - that the horror of Sept. 11 was far too much to grasp. I was down there for so many weeks, knew so many victims, went to so many funerals, I became immunized against the horrible reality.

If we could just have more of these men and women honored, in big ways and small, I think we will have an easier time saying "lest we forget."

Bad weather, great day.


http://www.nypost.com/seven/05272003...tary/76772.htm