Annual 9/11 Remembrance Walk Retraces the Steps of FDNY Chaplin Father Mychal Judge

NY 1 - September 11, 2019

by ALYSSA PAOLICELLI MANHATTAN

A three mile walk, ending at St. Peter's Church is the spot where the body of FDNY Chaplin Father Mychal Judge was placed after being pulled from the rubble when the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11th.

"The walk is to help start everyone in the right frame of mind in a very difficult week coming into 9/11," said John Bates, Team Leader of the Father Mychal Judge 9/11 Walk of Remembrance.

The Father Mychal Judge 9/11 Walk of Remembrance began in 2003 by a close friend of Father Judge, late NYPD Detective Steven McDonald.

Every year on the Sunday before the anniversary of the attacks, McDonald retraced Judge's steps from that morning.

Beginning at his rectory at St. Francis of Assisi Church to the site of the World Trade Center.

Over the years, hundreds have joined the annual memorial walk.

"It’s tremendous to my father's legacy and Father Mike's spirit and everyone else that we lost that day, I think sometimes we get lost in a lot of chaos with life and for us to come here the Sunday before 9/11 to remember the lives lost and how devastating it was, " added NYPD Detective Steven McDonald's son Conor.

Father Judge, like so many others rushed Downtown as he learned the towers had been hit.

Arriving at the mobile command post he offered aid and prayers for first responders, the injured, and the dead.

When the south tower collapse, debris struck Father Judge in the head, killing him.

The photograph of his lifeless body being carried to the alter at St. Peters, has become one of the most well-known images associated with 9-11.

"He was one of these people who when you were with him you were like the only person that existed, " said Father Christopher Keenan the Chaplain of the FDNY.

Judge is considered victim number 0001, recognized as the first official casualty of the attacks.

Along the route, the group stops at precincts and firehouses to read aloud names of the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice that day and the years since due to 9-11 related illnesses.

The walk honors their memory and Father Judge.

"Very emotional, but it makes me very happy that people are not forgetting I think it’s important to keep that going," said volunteer Sharon Hickey.

18 years later, keeping the promise to never forget.