9-11 10 Years Later: Daily Reminders

9-11 10 Years Later: Daily Reminders

 NEW YORK (WTOC) - Pat Egan doesn't drive down Freeborn Street anymore.

She has lived one block away most of her adult life, raised a family just around the corner. But, for nearly 10 years now, anytime Mrs. Egan has gone to or from home, she has taken a more personal, more meaningful route.

"To me,'' she says of the intersection, "it's Marty's corner still.''

The corner of Freeborn and Lincoln Ave. in Staten Island is one of the many streets in New York City that have been renamed in honor of those killed on September 11th. They are named for fire fighters, police officers and ordinary citizens who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

They are the streets victims grew up on or lived on when they died, where they experienced the happiest moments of their lives and probably some sad ones, but are now memorialized in their honor for all time.

"On December 15th, 2002, he would have been 37, we had a mass on his birthday and we had the street naming right after that,'' said Mrs. Egan, whose son had become a captain with the Fire Department of New York just weeks before 9-11. "This corner is where him and his friends used to meet. They did all their growing up. They'd meet each other here when they were going out and they'd always be here.''

Ingram Avenue was known to many as Chuck Margiotta's block even before it was named for the one time high school football star and Ivy Leaguer.

"He was like a renaissance man,'' said Charlie Margiotta, Chuck's father. "He did everything. He was a hunter, he was a fisherman, he was a part-time actor. He did stunts for the movies, about 10 Hollywood movies.''

He was also a decorated Lieutenant with the FDNY, who was on his way home on the morning of September 11th, but pulled into the nearest firehouse he could find after he heard the news about the terrorist attack.

"The last thing we heard from him was when he was on that truck and he called home and spoke to my wife,'' said Mr. Margiotta. "He talked his mother and he said, this is big. He said, I'll be okay, we'll be all right. I love you and that was it. That was the last thing he said, the last thing we heard from him.''

But for many families, seeing the name of a son or brother or sister or mother on a street sign is now something to hold onto.

"It's a gift to us after 9-11, a remembrance that people will drive down that block and they'll ask about that person and they'll see that that person is never forgotten,'' said Joe Cammarata, whose brother, Michael, was among the 343 firefighters killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center. Kingdom Ave. on Staten Island's South shore has been renamed Firefighter Michael Cammarata Place. "I have a four-year old daughter, Francesca Lynn, and she now knows that that street sign is for her uncle Mikey.''

"The fall about 2001 was about going to memorials and masses,'' said New York City Councilman James Oddo, who represents Staten Island. "Then the Spring of 2002 and on, this sort of phenomenon happened and that was the street renaming. It seemed a natural extension of the process. We were doing everything we could to offer comfort to the families and we decided, wouldn't it be great if on the street where they lived or were raising a family, we could add a sign so we don't allow their sacrifice to be forgotten.''

In the last 10 years, 425 New York streets have been renamed for victims, 195 on Staten Island, the most of any burrough.

You can't Mapquest them. They don't show up on GPS. But every one of those street signs, three different names on one four-way stop in some parts of the city, represents memories and emotions that are as real as the asphalt they hang above.

"I have proud feelings when I give people directions to the house and let them know where we are,'' said Michael Margiotta, Chuck's brother. "Because you can't miss it, it's got my brother's name up on the corner.''

"I look up, think of him every time I drive by,'' added Mrs. Egan. "This was his corner.''

"We would have moved heaven and earth to give families any sort of comfort,'' said Councilman Oddo. "It just seemed an easy thing to do. And we did a lot of them.

Too many, sadly, in the eyes of any 9-11 victims family.

"I wish the sign wasn't there,'' said Charlie Margiotta. "I could have found another way to put up a sign. But that's the way life is, this is what life brings you.''

"The whole 10 year thing, it doesn't register in my head,'' added Michael Margiotta. "He should be right next to me.''

"Ten years later feels like it happened 10 weeks ago,'' said Joe Cammarata. "It's been hills and valleys for all the families of September 11th and you look back now and say, wow a decade has gone by. We thought the healing process would be further along and it's not. It still feels raw and fresh.''

And that pain can be tempered, never taken away, by a name on a street.

"It really is important to our family, this is our block'' said Charlie Margiotta, whose family owns 2 houses, consisting of 4 dwellngs on the single street stretch of road named for his son. It's very important, but he paid a lot for it.''

 By Tim Guidera