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Thread: Long-lost Hero Gets Farewell

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Long-lost Hero Gets Farewell

    LONG-LOST HERO GETS FAREWELL

    By TATIANA DELIGIANNAKIS and DAN KADISON


    September 8, 2003 -- After almost two years of waiting for the remains of their lost son to be found at Ground Zero, the parents of FDNY firefighter Michael Ragusa finally held a wake for him yesterday.

    Dee and Vincent Ragusa invited friends and family to celebrate the life of their son before they bury a vial of his blood today.

    Ragusa, of Engine Co. 279, had participated in a blood marrow donation program before his untimely death on Sept. 11, and his parents opted to bury the 29-year-old's blood, rather than wait for his remains to be identified.

    Yesterday was the first service held for Ragusa - making him the last firefighter who perished that day to be memorialized.

    "Today is a tribute to a great kid who didn't deserve to die that way," said Ragusa's father, Vincent, adding that the pain of losing his son has never eased.

    Ragusa's funeral will take place at St. Bernard's Church on 2055 East 69th Street, Brooklyn, today at 9:30 a.m. Thousands, including Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, are expected to attend.



    http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/5235.htm

  2. #2
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Last Service Held for 9/11 WTC Fireman

    Monday, September 8, 2003

    Last Service Held for 9/11 WTC Fireman


    By LUKAS I. ALPERT
    Associated Press Writer


    NEW YORK- Hundreds gathered for the wake Michael Ragusa, the last firefighter killed in the terror attack on the World Trade Center to receive a memorial service, which had been painfully put off by family waiting for his remains to be identified.

    A funeral for the 29-year-old was scheduled for Monday, a day after family, friends and firefighters paid their respects at a funeral home. His family chose to bury a vial of blood he had donated to a bone marrow center.

    Many families of the 343 firefighters killed Sept. 11, 2001, held services before remains were identified, but Ragusa's family delayed an official ceremony. Last month, his mother, Dee Ragusa, said they decided they had waited long enough.

    "It was a very personal decision for the family," said Gerry Sweeney, a firefighter in Ladder Co. 131. "They really didn't want to go through a memorial service and then hear that a piece of Michael had been recovered and have to go through it again, but I guess they'd figured enough time had passed."

    Of the 2,792 people who died in the attack, the medical examiner has identified remains of just over half.

    Photos at the funeral home showed Ragusa smiling as a child, hugging his girlfriend, driving his car and fighting a fire.

    Dozens of firefighters, including some who took a break from their shifts to come to the memorial, passed through to offer the family their condolences.

    "For a lot of us who have dealt with all these wakes and the funerals, this closes some sort of a chapter, for the whole department," Sweeney said.

  3. #3
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Mourning a Firefighter at Last

    Mourning a Firefighter at Last
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


    Filed at 3:13 p.m. ET

    NEW YORK (AP) -- A vial holding the blood of a firefighter was placed in a coffin alongside his uniform Monday, marking the final memorial service for the 343 firefighters killed at the World Trade Center.

    The family of Michael Paul Ragusa, 29, had put off any funeral for two years in the hope that his remains might be identified. But they never were.

    However, the family had blood that Ragusa had donated to a bone marrow center in the months before Sept. 11.

    Ragusa's family said the donation represented his lifelong dedication to helping others.

    "He had such a generous spirit,'' Monsignor John Delendick told mourners at the Church of St. Bernard in Brooklyn. "Friends always called him when they needed help. They knew Michael would take care of the problem. Always.''

    About 500 people sat or stood shoulder-to-shoulder inside the church's small sanctuary. Thousands more firefighters -- including many who never knew Ragusa and others who came from other states -- listened via loudpeakers outside.

    The Mass was punctuated by sorrowful rituals that have become too familiar to the Fire Department in the past two years -- bagpipes wailing "Amazing Grace,'' the somber beat of a drumline, a silent firetruck carrying the coffin.

    Of the 2,792 people who died in the attack, the medical examiner has identified remains of just over half. Many families have held memorial services without their loved ones' remains.

    Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani received a loud ovation when he approached the altar, then lauded the Fire Department for struggling through what once seemed an endless procession of funerals and memorials.

    "I remember them in the rain, in the snow, sometimes 12 funerals a day,'' he said. "Each individual life was very important.''

    In a written remembrance, his family said Ragusa was an indispensable source of help and advice. When friends found themselves in a bind, they often made decisions by thinking of the code letters WWMD -- "What would Mikey do?''

    On Sept. 11, "he didn't flinch. He didn't hesitate,'' Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said at the service. "He saw those two towers with thousands of people in need, and he rushed in.''

    Replicas of the black No. 3 car driven by late NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt and of the logo for Foster's beer -- both favorites of the young firefighter -- were placed on the altar.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg reflected on the number of funerals firefighters have endured. "One is too many,'' he said. "Three hundred forty-three is almost too much to bear.''


    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/nati...refighter.html

  4. #4
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Farewell to Michael

    New York City firefighters carry helmets that
    belonged to firefighter Michael Ragusa as they
    arrive at St. Bernard's Church for Ragusa's funeral services
    Monday in New York. 9-8- 2003
    photo by Mary Altaffer-- Associated Press AP

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