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Emotions stir at Phoenix 9/11 memorial ceremony

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PHOENIX – Joseph Tufano still remembers the emotions he felt when terrorists brought down the World Trade Center towers, with dozens of friends from his days with New York City’s fire department among the dead.

“Sickness came over. I was just sick to my stomach,” Tufano said. “There were so many friends.”listen

Tufano retired and left New York in 1996 and moved to Arizona, becoming a firefighter again with the city of Glendale.

He had a newborn daughter then but took the rest of his vacation time to get on a plane to New York, where for a month he helped rescue those still stuck under the rubble.

“I always considered it one very, very long day. Because I don’t remember days really. I just remember finding civilians and brothers,” he said.listen

On Thursday, he joined those marking the anniversary of 9/11 at City Hall, where Mayor Greg Stanton praised those who rushed to aid those in need.

Tufano said he attends the 9/11 ceremony each year because it is important for him to remember, but he still struggles with the emotions that come with attending.

“You would think something like this would get easier, but it doesn’t. It’s located at the base of your heart, and every year the wound opens up and then you realize what happened and you remember all of your buddies, he said. listen

The Fire and Police Honor Guard opened and closed the ceremony, where current and past first responders and members of the public paid their respects. The event included a flag that flew over Ground Zero and the tolling of a bell.

Ruben Saavedra, attending the ceremony for the first time, said that after being a soldier for 11 years 9/11 events are hard for him.

“Days like that don’t go away,” he said. “There was a sadness, it was just really eerie that whole day.”

Frank Stoecker, a retired New York Police Department lieutenant, said the event was his first 9/11 memorial ceremony in Arizona.

“It’s hard. This brings back old memories that are hard to calculate in your mind,” he said. “Sometimes you like to forget. It’s difficult really to bring back a lot of stuff that is buried in the back of your mind.” listen