By Matthew Chayes Newsday
A commemorative bell tolled five times Wednesday in a Mineola courtroom as a cap belonging to an FDNY firefighter slain in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was placed there in perpetuity.
The ceremony, at Nassau County Surrogate’s Court, honored not only the firefighter, Michael Boyle, but the attacks’ 344 victims from Nassau whose last legal affairs unexpectedly had to be settled.
The estates of the slain that the court had settled in the years since 9/11 — some who died without wills — ranged from the highest ranking uniformed officer in the FDNY, Chief of Department Peter Ganci, to probationary firefighters to a wealthy stock trader to a busboy at the World Trade Center restaurant Windows on the World.
Boyle, 37, grew up in Westbury and had been a firefighter with Engine 33 in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood. He was trapped in the Tower One collapse.
Boyle’s brother Peter and father James J. Boyle — a past president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association — watched Wednesday as the cap was perched on a ledge next to an American flag.
Among the speakers was FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano, who said the department’s 343 fallen firefighters are still on his mind. “I could go on and on and on. I could name all 343 for you,” he said.
Whenever a firefighter dies in the line of duty, tradition has it that bells are rung five times, according to the FDNY.
Judge Edward W. McCarty III of Surrogate’s Court said the cap would remain there in Boyle’s honor “as long as this court administers justice in the United States.”
Since 9/11, Cassano said, volunteers have supported firefighters, veterans and charities to help the underprivileged.
Said McCarty: “Isn’t it wonderful? Good coming from evil.”