IBEW Local 3 NYC: Reliving 9/11 Every Year
How Local 3 electricians hold their annual remembrance to their members who died at the World Trade Center
This year, we remember the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On a sunny day, in 2001 our innocence was lost forever as two planes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Another plane would fly into the Pentagon and one would be taken down in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
On that day, 2,997 people lost their lives. In the aftermath of the attacks, everyone in the country felt its impact. New York City, and it's surrounding suburbs felt that impact the most. Many had lost a loved one, a friend, or a colleague. Who could forget the pictures of wives or mothers putting up pictures around Manhattan asking if anyone had seen their loved one, holding onto the hope that they may have escaped? In the aftermath of the attack, we promised to never forget.
Now 19 years later, we keep that promise. While there is the big remembrance at Ground Zero, with loved ones reading the names of those who died, one local union holds their own memorial. In Electchester, Queens, IBEW Local 3 holds a reading of names for their members that were lost. In total seventeen Local 3 members died, along with four other IBEW members who were a part of Local 1212. With a pandemic this year and strict rules preventing large gatherings, the union continued to hold the name reading, with a limited crowd. To allow the members to be a part of the remembrance, the union live-streamed the ceremony on their Facebook page.
“It's 9/11, it was something that happened in our lifetime,” said Local 3 IBEW Business Manager Christopher Erikson.
It was traumatic, devastating not only to the Local 3 family but to the nearly 3,000 families of people that were killed that day. So many people can’t forget that. That’s why you have to have this event. It’s not a celebration but a recognition of what happened that day and it’s important that we never forget.
With 19 years having past, the effects of that fateful day are still felt. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, have died from 9/11 related illnesses and hundreds of thousands more are thought to have been exposed to toxic dust from the Towers. Local 3, whose members volunteered on the rubble in the immediate aftermath of the attack, has lost 20 members to 9/11 related illnesses and countless more are still sick and continue to suffer. Following 9/11, even more, have died or come home injured in fighting the War against Terror, a fight that continues today.
Today Mr. Erikson told UCOMM that he also remembers the futures lost. He noted that one of the members who died, Thomas Ashton, was on his first day of work as an apprentice. He was assigned to a contractor working at the World Trade Center. “He was just 19 or 20, today he would almost 40,” Erikson said. “Others would be retired and enjoying the fruits of labor.”
While the years continue to go by, unions like Local 3 have tried to take care of the families of their fallen brothers as best they can. They have offered medical care to the children for life and even set up an annuity for them from the money that was donated by IBEW members and contractors from across the country. Even though the attack may feel like just yesterday, over the next two years the last of the children will be old enough to begin receiving their annuity, having grown up never knowing their fathers.
Every year, Local 3 IBEW is reminded of their role in the 9/11 attacks. In 2013, the union was featured in a video by IBEW Hour Power that showcased them in the raising of the spire, which included the names of the murdered IBEW members. That spire sits above the Freedom Tower overlooking New York City. The Freedom Tower is one of the city's most recognizable landscapes and is one of the Building Trades' most prized jobs. “It lets the world know that we have never forgotten our members,” said Local 3 Member Brian Deahl. “The names are up there above everything else.”
Last year in 2018, Mr. Erikson recorded a heartfelt 9/11 message atop 74 Trinity with the Freedom Tower in the background. This year, social media was again reminded of the role that Local 3 electricians play in lighting up the city skyline with 2 blue tributes in light. The message;
It took 4 people to set up the lights. 9/11 lights were almost canceled because it was too dangerous. Nice job Local 3 Electricians getting it done!
While 9/11 is a sad day, especially in New York, it is important to keep remembering it and keep the stories of these nearly 3,000 victims in our thoughts. As Wayne Cabot, a news radio commentator on New York’s WCBS 880 said today right after the 10:28 am bell ringing for the collapse of the North Tower, “This is what we can do, this is the small part we can play all of these years later, to honor the sacrifices of these people. Not just those who lost their lives in the building, those that were there randomly, but also those who heroically went in to try and save lives. This is the least we can do.”
This is why UCOMM has dedicated space on our site to this story, because like Wayne Cabot from CBS 880 said, this is the least we can do.
IBEW Members Who Died on 9/11: From Local 3: Thomas J. Ashton, James M. Cartier, Robert J. Caufield, Joseph DiPilato, Salvatore A. Fiumefreddo, Harvey R. Hermer, Ralph M. Licciardi, Michael W. Lowe, Charles P. Lucania, Lester V. Marino, Jose A. Martinez Jr., Joseph M. Romagnolo, Anthony Segarra, Jeffrey J. Shaw, Steven R. Strauss, Glenn J. Travers Sr., and Kenneth W. White. From Local 1212: Gerald Coppola, Steven Jacobson, Robert Pattison, and Isaias Rivera.