Prayer card belonging to pilot among 9/11 items collected at newly dedicated museum

By Edgar Sandoval, Corky Siemaszko New York Daily News

Parting with this prayer card was like leaving a best friend.

It belonged to Charles (Chic) Burlingame, the pilot of the hijacked plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11, and his sister, Debra, donated it to the new National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

“He was carrying a prayer card in his wallet,” Debra Burlingame said Thursday, as she joined other grieving relatives for a tour of the newly dedicated museum.

“It has the Matthew verse, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Now it is among the 10,000 items on display at the shrine to a national tragedy.

When Burlingame got the chance, she made a beeline to the “Aftermath Section” of the museum to see the poignant reminder of her lost brother.

Burlingame said he carried it in memory of their late mother.

“It also has a poem that says ‘I did not die. Do not go to my grave,'” she said. “We took that as a message from my Mother: ‘It’s okay. I got him.'”

The remnants of the plane Burlingame’s brother piloted was also on display, and that just broke her heart.

“He died a day before his birthday,” she said. “All of this is incredibly bittersweet. It’s hard to see, the wreckage of his plane. It looked like it was beaten by a meteor. It just makes me so sad.”

Burlingame said it was especially sad that the plane her brother loved flying was turned into a weapon of mass destruction by Osama Bin Laden’s followers.

“To die that way, it’s like someone who is an Olympic swimmer to die by drowning,” she said.

Sheila Kioskerides, also came to remember her older brother, John Paolillo. He was the FDNY’s chief of special operations and died in the north tower.

“To see his photo, on the wall with all the others, it just hits you, the magnitude,” she said. “It brings you back, the panic, to that time.”

Al Acquaviva and his wife Josephine found a business card that belonged to their dead son Paul, who was 29 and worked on the 103rd floor of the north tower for a web division of Cantor Fitzgerald.

That and their memories are all they have left of him.

“His remains were never recovered,” the still-grieving dad said. “This is his resting place. It’s just sad. We think of him every day.”

Acquaviva said he still remembers what he told his daughter-in-law when he learned about the terrorist attack.

“I called his wife and told her, ‘We are going to get through this,'” he said. “Once I saw it on TV and realized what floor the plane hit …”

Rich Mighdoll, a 55-year-old Long Island truck driver who started hauling debris away from Ground Zero two days after the attack, said he had to fight back tears as he walked through the museum.

“It was very emotional,” he said. “You try to hold it in as much as possible. Still, you couldn’t.”

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