Thousands Honor New York Firefighters' 9/11 Dead
Sat Oct 12, 1:53 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of firefighters from around the world and grieving relatives filled Madison Square Garden arena and the surrounding blocks in New York on Saturday to honor the 343 firefighters who died in the World Trade Center attack last year.
With steady rain falling in the city, an honor guard carried flags for each of the dead as a procession of firefighters marched behind an antique hand-drawn pumper wagon and a pipes and drum band to the arena.
Thousands of spectators also lined the wet streets along Eighth Avenue to welcome the marchers and to watch huge screens placed around the city showing the ceremony inside the arena, which was packed with 25,000 people.
For more than an hour while many wept, the names of those who died were read out. At the end of the name-call, the audience gave a 10-minute standing ovation.
The ceremony is an annual event for dead firefighters but was canceled last year after the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed about 3,000 people. Saturday's event also paid tribute to 16 dead firefighters who would have been honored at the 2001 ceremony.
The event was held as city firefighters, who have been without a contract for 29 months, are demanding higher pay.
In a speech, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (news - web sites) likened the dead firefighters of Sept. 11 to "our soldiers, sailors and Marines at Pearl Harbor. They were our first line of defense," he said.
"I wish they were all here, that we could close our eyes and make it all go away but we can't," he said, telling relatives "all of you are going to mourn forever. Every time I feel like crying and I do, I feel proud."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the firefighters "showed the world that the city is a city of strength. Their actions have forever rewritten the history of the city."

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