Flanked by her husband, Tony, Kennelly, and Augusta Fire Chief Al Gillespie, Joanne Kennelly observes the Sept. 11 memorial concert at Riverwalk Augusta.
Photo by Michael Holahan
The emotions that racked Americans on the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks hit close to home for one Columbia County woman who continues to deal with the grief surrounding the death of her brother, a New York City firefighter.
"Dealing with this is very hard," said Joanne Kennelly, of the death of 41-year-old Paul Tegtmeier, the lone firefighter from Engine Company 4 in the Bronx to answer the call for assistance from fellow firefighters at Engine Company 26 in Manhattan. "My mind just keeps going back to that day. I still have a lot of unclosed thoughts and still don't know if I'll have closure."
Kennelly, who spent the anniversary of the attacks in the Augusta area, said her family, which lives in New York, marked the anniversary by attending a memorial service at Ground Zero.
"I talked with my mom last night," Kennelly said Thursday morning. "We had a bit of an emotional cry together and I told her I felt like I had spent the day around family and loved ones."
Kennelly and her family marked the day by attending a civic luncheon at the Bell Auditorium as Augusta Mayor Bob Young's guest. She ended the day by joining a crowd of people from throughout the area at a patriotic and memorial concert at Riverwalk Augusta. In between the scheduled events, Kennelly visited local fire stations and met her brother's comrades.
"If it had not been for (Richmond County Fire Department) Chief (Al) Gillespie and the Richmond County Fire Department, I would have been a basket case," Kennelly said. "There is so much to be said about the brotherhood of firefighters. They never knew my brother, but he was one of them."
Kennelly still wonders if her brother suffered in his final minutes on Earth and, though she'll never know the answer, she is reassured in the knowledge that her brother died doing what he loved.
"There's comfort in knowing there are good people out there and I met a lot of them yesterday," she said. "I know my brother didn't die in vain."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.