In a Brooklyn barracks, only one of the firefighters who were active on the September 11, 2001 continues to exercise, but the memory of the 12 “brothers” dead in the rubble of the World Trade Center is still alive and was evoked this Saturday with emotion.

“We will never forget them”: On the carved stone pediment of this company called “Squad 1” in New York’s beautiful Park Slope district, the names of the 12 missing are inscribed in plain view of passersby.

Around the national flag, retired colleagues and relatives gathered on Saturday, like every September 11, for an intimate moment.

“I am the last of us who work with them. This morning, the suffering returned, but I am also happy to see family members, to see how they are,” says Paul Stallone, 54, before the minute of silence at 08:46 (12:46 GMT), the precise time at which the Tower North was attacked by the first plane hijacked by al Qaeda jihadists.

For two decades, Stallone, who arrived “on September 12, 1976” with his family in Brooklyn from southern Italy, has lived with “the guilt of the survivor”.

If his name is not among the deceased, it is because he had “finished (his) shift the night before.”

– “We can’t get over it” –

“When the towers were attacked, I was at home and went back to the barracks. That saved my life because when I got to the city the towers had fallen. The guys who took their shift that night or that morning never came home, “says Stallone.

Among his 12 “brothers” was Stephen Siller, 34, father of five, who had just finished his service when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

With his team in tow, he walked through a tunnel connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan to participate in the rescue, but never returned alive.

Frank Siller, his brother, took that same tunnel on Saturday to complete a journey of more than 800 km that began this summer in Washington in order to raise funds for his association to help families, “Tunnel 2 Towers.”

“I miss my brother a lot. You learn to live with it, but you can’t get over it,” he says.

– 343 firefighters killed –

On the morning of September 11, 2001, 343 of the many mobilized firefighters were killed, belonging to 78 companies.

In “Squad 1”, after the ceremony and the mass in a neighborhood church, there was a moment for the reunion between the families.

Theresa Johnson, cousin of Matthew Garvey, who disappeared at 37, still feels “anxious”.

Two decades later, “there are still terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, I have the impression that I will never get over it,” adds this 50-year-old woman under the same blue sky on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Frank Siller does not want to talk about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. He wants those who died “to be remembered.”

“It is not so strong for those who were not yet alive, because they did not see the towers fall. But the United States has never forgotten Pearl Harbor. And he will never forget September 11.”

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