Seaford resident Cindy Earley memorialized her husband, EMS Capt. Michael...

Seaford resident Cindy Earley memorialized her husband, EMS Capt. Michael Earley, who died Jan. 26 of pancreatic cancer related to toxins from Ground Zero.

Credit: Jennifer S. Altman

Yet more names have been added to a memorial wall inside FDNY headquarters listing firefighters, medics and other personnel who died of ailments linked to toxins at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

At a ceremony Wednesday, held annually, widows, children and other loved ones of 37 FDNY personnel whose names are on the wall helped place white roses below it as a bell tolled for each. Most of the personnel died this year and in 2021.

For last year’s ceremony, 25 FDNY personnel had been added. In total, the department said Tuesday in a news release, 299 FDNY personnel have died from work at Ground Zero in the weeks and months after Sept. 11, 2001.

“Twenty-one years ago this week, we lost 343 members of the FDNY, and those losses, as insurmountable as they are, did not end that day. In fact, they have continued to grow in the two decades since,” acting Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at the ceremony. “We have continued to see our members die of illnesses sustained as the result of brave and selfless work that they did in the rescue and recovery effort at the World Trade Center site.”

Kavanagh said that the wall had been constructed in 2011, and “at that time, we did not know how many names would be added to it. It was expanded — sadly — in 2020 because the list of names continues to grow.”

In 2011, 55 names of personnel who had died since 2003 were added.

Wednesday’s ceremony was held in the late afternoon in downtown Brooklyn, in the plaza outside and inside the lobby of FDNY headquarters, including performances by a harpist, a video montage of those who died, and prayers by Roman Catholic and Jewish chaplains.

Among those placing the white roses were Seaford’s Kimberley Raftery, whose husband, EMS Lt. John P. Raftery, died Dec. 27 of acute myeloid leukemia.

“He was diagnosed on February 1st. And he didn’t even get a year. He was 50 when he died,” she said, adding: “It was so fast — and just devastating.”

She said he didn’t want his stepsons, now ages 18 and 16, to see him as he deteriorated: “The boys didn’t go in and see him; John didn’t want that.”

He worked there from the days the towers fell, for six months, she said.

Another Seaford resident, Cindy Earley, also memorialized a husband, EMS Capt. Michael Earley. He died Jan. 26 of pancreatic cancer, also leaving behind two daughters, ages 24 and 20; he had been diagnosed May 5, 2021.

“He was larger than life: His nickname was ‘Shrek.’ Because he was 6-foot-3, 300 pounds. He was just the life of the party. He was a huge sports fan — a Ranger fan, a Mets fan, Knicks, Jets, so he was used to losing,” she said.

In the aftermath of the attacks, she said, he like so many others worked for months sifting through the rubble looking for remains of the dead.

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