Letter to the Editor: Dorchester welcomed the heroes of NYC after 9/11

Reporter coverage of the Nov. 11, 2001 events held at Dorchester's Pope John Paul II Park to salute the first responders of New York City after 9/11.

On 9/11/01, I woke at 6 a.m. to work for Senator Stephen Lynch at the Patrick O'Hearn School. He was running in a special election to fill Congressman Joseph Moakley's seat. I had a break, so I was home on Christopher Street when I saw that our country had been attacked.

Eventually I headed back up to the poll still still stunned. We huddled around a portable radio to see if they would cancel the special election. They made the correct call to continue election day. And, Stephen Lynch was elected to Congress. For me over the next couple of weeks as our country came out of lockdowns I was amazed and humbled by the many acts of heroism that occurred in the hijacked planes, at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center.

In October, I felt that we here should do something here in Dorchester, but what? First I reached out to folks who were involved in Civic associations like me— I was the president of the Fields Corner Civic Association. Ten of us (Dorchester Reporter 11/8/01) met up at the Paul R. McLaughlin Youth Center. We concluded that we should hold an ecumenical service at the recently opened Pope John Paul II Park. We chose Sunday, November 11th.

Over the next couple of meetings we discussed how we might offer a respite to a few of those New York's heroic first responders. But, first we needed a contact to extend an invitation to 40 of those first responders. We needed a couple of days here in Dorchester to relax away from what they were still experiencing. Most of them were still working at the World Trade Center on recovering victims.

A couple of points not covered in the Dorchester Reporter of November 15, 2001 are: when we got to Boston College those 40 heroic first responders were greeted with dignity, caring and love by Christopher Rooney and 20 of his friends. Who provided them with the most enjoyable tailgate party.

Slowly you saw them chatting with Chris's friends. The game was fun and BC lost in the last moments of the game. We then headed back to the Blarney Stone for dinner. About 7p.m. a New York Police Officer came up to me. He asked me to walk with him to the bar side.

On the way, he told me that his partner had died on 9/11. When our invitation came, he thought of bringing his partner's 15 year-old-son, who had become withdrawn in the aftermath of losing his father. He said, that day was the first time in two months that his partner's son had enjoyed himself.

When I got to the table that boy stood up shook my hand and thanked me for having me come to Dorchester. In the almost 20 years since then I've wondered what that young boy has become since he lost his father.

I've mentioned this story to my brother Jim, but I think its time to share with all of us in Dorchester, who showed those 40 Heroic New York First Responders, that we in Dorchester cared. That and that we'd "Never forget."

Tom Gannon
Fields Corner