The day no one will forget


In September 2001, you would have been hard-pressed to find a resident of Rockville Centre who had not lost a relative, friend, neighbor, co-worker or acquaintance in the Sept. 11 attacks. The victims included workers in the twin towers of the World Trade Center and emergency service personnel who responded.
RVC resident Stephen J. Geraghty is chief of rescue operations for the New York City Fire Department and a volunteer firefighter with the Rockville Centre department. When he heard about the attacks on the morning of Sept. 11, Steve — whose brother Eddie, a chief of FDNY’s 9th Battalion, was working — rushed into Lower Manhattan, arriving after the towers came down.
He found Eddie’s car on the West Side Highway, and began searching for his brother and anything connected to the 9th Battalion. At first, the search was for survivors who might be found in pockets under the rubble. As time went on, however, the mission changed to a search for remains.
Steve later learned from radio recordings that Eddie had perished in the south tower’s collapse. His remains were never found. The 45-year-old, third-generation FDNY firefighter left behind a widow and three young sons, as well as his parents and six siblings.
Fifteen years on, Steve’s life mission encompasses a lot of training — training the next generation of firefighters to respond to “that day when things go bad.” As chief of rescue operations for the FDNY, and as a volunteer with the RVCFD, he believes that doing rescue exercises repeatedly prepares first responders to be at their best in emergencies.

Geraghty says he finds it gratifying to share his knowledge and experience, knowing that well-trained firefighters will do everything possible to help others who are victims of fires.
At one point there were five Geraghtys serving as volunteer firefighters for the RVCFD, including Steve’s and Eddie’s children. Steve says the fire service is in the family’s blood, with his son and a nephew also serving with the FDNY. He said he feels happiest that Eddie’s three sons grew up as fine young men, lovingly raised by their mother, Mary, and surrounded by a large family.
Fifteen years after the attacks, Steve offers some perspective. “There are people out there in the world who don’t like us; we know that,” he said. “We take all precautions, and are prepared for any imagined scenario. But although we’re vigilant about what could happen, we’re not afraid to live our lives.”