By Ashley Mastronardi Fox 5 News Philadelphia
About four and a half million people have toured the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan since it opened in 2011. But for Arnie Mascali, of New Jersey, this is more than just a tour.
“My brother Joe was a hero. A true hero,” Mascali said. “He was at Rescue 5 in Staten Island, and him and his colleagues on September 11th responded, they did what they always do.”
Sadly, Joe and 10 of his firefighter brothers never made it out.
This visit was the first time Mascali is saw his brother’s name on the memorial.
“We miss him dearly, his family, we love him so much,” he said.
The loss was devastating and weighed heavily on Mascali’s heart. But last year on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, he found a way to work through his grief. He organized a hockey tournament with his son’s team along with other kids from New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
“It’s not just about hockey. Each of the teams has to participate in a service project… leading up to the event and the point of that is to educate the players on what happened on September 11th,” Mascali said. “We have to remember that most of these players were two years old at the time of 9/11, so they don’t have any memory really of what happened that day.”
This year the tournament will become an annual event.
In anticipation, Mascali brought his son’s hockey team along to the memorial.
“I think it’s a dramatic impact,” Mascali said. “I mean, we can talk to them about what happened that day, but even as we walked into the memorial I could tell that their mood changed.
“Well it shows the scale, how big these pools are, the towers how big this really was and it’s very surprising,” said Jack Mascali. “I really didn’t realize till I was here.”
“It feels good to know that we are helping a good cause for everybody, for everybody that is here,” Anthony Deltufo said.
Parents say the visit will bring more meaning to this year’s tournament.
“Their hearts, they wear on their jerseys and I can’t wait to see them on the ice to actually play September 7-9 after having had this experience,” Elizabeth Mascali said.
The proceeds from the tournament go to the Wounded Warrior Project and defending the blue line. So far the guys have raised more than $15,000.