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Dedicated to a Brother

My hair was long
And black
You still had hair.
Summer was long too and sung the grass into greens barbs.

We gulped the air,
Our hair blasted by the wind,
Heroes of time.

Now you are gone,
The same wind took you – your friendship, your light, your heart.
I look at the picture of us at 20 years old.
Boldly harnessing the trees and the Earth’s good ground.

Your young face like the sun itself, beaming relentlessly.
The world stood still.
And there we were (had we known) with life bristling through us.
Our vigor grew the grass and the mountains, and lit the stars too.

Your Brother

"Dear Paul:

All there is to say is that all the memories we shared as longtime friends will always be in my heart and soul.
We had a lot of laughs,
and great times at the house with Tina and Zeboida.
All the late nights hanging out I will never forget the most,
because of all the talking and music listening we did that was the best. I pray one day to see you in Heaven and we can catch up on lost time. Remember one thing,
my dear friend, NO ONE can take the true friendship we had away from our memories in our heart and soul.

Your friend Joseph John Olivio"
Click here for newspaper article

Dear Paul,

April 11, 2002 --
Today we are mourning the 7 month anniversary of the day you were so horribly taken from us
when we should be celebrating your 35th birthday.
My birthday is tomorrow and I am remembering the birthday celebrations we shared -- cards, gifts, chocolate cake -- my favorite & Joshua's too! How many were at Easter time, which we always spent together as a family. Birthday parties, weekends in the Poconos, Yankees v. Mets arguments (our continuing battle for the baseball affections of your sons), Christmas plays, Radio City, Christmas Eve dinners -- the memories are everywhere.

Seven months later and the pain is as raw and deep as ever. Time has not helped at all -- it only seems to have made it worse; your loss has become a cruel and bitter reality.

Paul, I know that you are in a better place and I know I should find some comfort in that;but I am not yet at that place. Your father has more faith than I do, but no less pain. He is completely and utterly heartbroken. I often find him weeping uncontrollably. I can find no words to console him -- how can I tell him that it will be okay, that it will get better?

It is said that April is the cruelest month. How true that is -- your birthday, mine and your dad's. I cannot go into a card store without crying; nothing is the same anymore.

So today, my dear brave firefighter hero, on the day you would have been just 35, I ask that you give your family and friends the gift of strength we all so desperately need; and as a special birthday gift to me, the faith which I seem to have lost.
Maybe then I can be as brave in facing life as you were in facing death.


Dear Paulie,

April 11, 2002 will be your 35th birthday, and although I am sad and still cry often, I wanted to share the following with all who read this message on your memorial site.

Whatever the nature of our relationships with Paul,
we pause today to remember my son's birthday, to celebrate his life and also to give thanks to God for having the privilege of knowing & loving Paul and sharing life with him. Today we come together with our different memories of that much too brief life. We come to share those memories and experiences. We come to remember that each of those memories and experiences was a gift from God, given as a blessing as we have walked along our journey of life.

You were a good Dad and Son,Paul and I know you are now watching over us. Last December,I was selected to carry the Olympic Torch in your memory,along with your brother firefighters, Andy S., Joe C & other family members from your firehouse. That was a true honor, and I thank you.

In order to memorialize that event, with your inspiration,I designed and made a plaque to hold the Torch with Engine 54/Truck 4/Battalion 9 logo, "Pride of Midtown" motto & the FDNY Symbol. There is a marble piece inscribed with all the names of the 15 firefighters from 48th & 8th who gave their lives on September 11th. I know this is what you would have wanted, and it is my Birthday Gift to you this year.

Paul,you know I never did anything like this before in my entire life. Yet while I was working, I felt your presence and your artist's hands guiding mine with each letter and inscription. All who have seen it so far have said how beautiful it is. There will be a dedication in May in your name and your Firehouse has reserved a special place just for this. Also, at the end of April, I will bring the Torch and history to Joshua’s school so that all the students can pass the Olympic Torch amongst them. Who knows, maybe a future Olympian will develop from the experience.

Happy Birthday, my son. Not a day goes by that I do not miss you terribly. I love you very much.


Hey Paulie

- Not a day goes by that I don't think of you my little brother.
As I write this on your 35th Birthday, April 11th,
I'm listening to the casette tape you made of the Beatles
- - it makes me feel closer to you.
Although you're no longer here on earth,
I feel your spirit helping me through these difficult times.
Thank you for being with me.
Shine on you crazy diamond!
And I'm sure this will be your best birthday ever....
up in Heaven with God and his Angels.

With love,
your sister,

"God saves all of our tears in a bottle."

On September 11th, 2001 civilization and humanity were interrupted by an evil that dwells in the hearts of barbarians.

On that day the tears of many were overwhelming but they could not overwhelm the capacity of Our Loving Father to collect and contain these tears of unfathomable grief.

On that day, my nephew Paul John Gill Firefighter and Hero from Engine 54 Midtown with 14 other Heroic Firefighters put living flesh onto the words of a song, "The Impossible Dream," from the play "The Man of La Mancha". Some of the lyrics of that song became personified in the 343 Firefighters in their selfless devotion.

These 343 were to bear with unbearable sorrow and to run where the brave dare not go.

And the world will be better for this -- that 343 torn and covered with scares still strove with their last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star.
This is my Quest, to follow that star no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

These 343 were willing to March Into Hell for a Heavenly cause.
And the song ends thusly:
"And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest that my heart will find peace, when I'm lain to my rest"

My nephew Paul, a young dad with two sons has been taken from this world. The ultimate sacrifice given to preserve life...this is love.

I have a favorite picture of my newphew Paul carrying my own son Matthew. The picture was taken in 1985.

That picture shows an 18 year old Paul carrying an 8 year old Matt on his shoulders. Smiles beam from top to bottom of that wonderful photograph. There is a trust in that photo that says "I will not drop you"; "I have you, no need for worry."

I can only imagine that as Firefighter Paul John Gill carried out his duties within the FDNY, that anyone who had to rely on his strength, they could echo those words too!

And as Firefighter Paul John Gill was carried to Heaven, Our Heavenly Father would say "I have you, no need to worry"

There is not a day that goes by that I do not remember my nephew. The Scripture from God's Word says that there will be a time in the future when there will be no more sorrow and no more tears. Ah, that will be a day of great Joy in Heaven..and I will see my nephew again in the land of the LIVING.

God keep you, my nephew.

With much love,

Your Uncle Bill
Click here for Patriot-Ledger newspaper article

Dear Paul,

We all miss you so much. We cannot express how honored we are that we were a part of your life. You brought us many laughs and so many good times. Now you bring us incredible pride when we think of you and what you did for humanity. You made the supreme sacrifice, by giving your life to save so many. Because of a choice you made as a young boy, we are totally confident that today you are in the presence of your Heavenly Father enjoying and sitting at HIS feet.

I know this because shortly after 9/11, a lady at my church shared a vision with me -- a vision she had about you. This is what she shared. "I saw Jesus in the rubble. HE was crying. He said those who had ears to hear were reminded of His promise. I will never leave you or forsake you, I will be with you to the very end." He was also saying, "you will be comforted when you are persecuted, you will have your rewards. Know that I am with you in the midst of every storm." After hearing this vision, which was prayed over you, I knew beyond any doubt that today you are in the presence of your Heavenly Father resting and enjoying the glory which you earned.


Aunt June

Dear Paul,

The morning of September 11th, your dad & I just got off a plane from Maui in Los Angeles Airport, on our way home from our long overdue honeymoon. Moments later, we witnessed the attacks unfold on television. My first thought on seeing the Trade Center on fire was of you. I knew you would be there; the question was when would you be there. Your dad put it best: in a matter of minutes, we went from "Paradise to Hell." It was hours before we were able to reach New York to discover that indeed you were working that day -- had gone into work in the morning -- and would have been one of the first units to respond.

I can't believe that was only a year ago -- it feels like ten. Our lives are now defined by 9/11 -- before & after. But I have trouble remembering what life was like before.

I can't remember ever seeing your father look happy, ever seeing him without tears in his eyes. Paul, I bet you never saw your dad cry. He cries all the time now. He was always so strong, so nurturing; his job was to take care of you, to keep you safe. When we got word in California that you were missing, I thought he would die from the pain and grief; I felt I would die just watching him -- his pain and mine was too much to bear.

I can't remember ever feeling joy or happiness. I can't remember ever sleeping through the night. I can't remember ever waking up from a nightmare to discover it was only a dream -- to thank God it wasn't true. I can't remember looking at an airplane and not seeing a weapon. I can't remember going through a day without crying. I can't remember not feeling this unrelenting anguish, this overwhelming sadness.

I can't remember being able to look at or hold Aaron and Joshua without my heart breaking, without wanting to hug them so hard that I will crush them.

I do remember sitting in the audience on the day you graduated from "Probie" school, watching you being sworn in as a member of New York's Bravest. I do remember being so worried about you and so proud of you at the same time. I do remember praying to God to watch out for you, to protect you -- to please, please keep you safe.

Recently, someone asked me, "What would Paul want for you?" I know that you would want us to be happy again; to go on with our lives; to mourn your passing, but to celebrate your spirit. That is what your dad and I are trying to do -- to live the rest of our lives with the same courage, honor and selflessness you showed on 9/11. This is the way we can best honor you, and I promise you that we will try.



Birthday of Paul J.Gill

April 11, 1967-Sept. 11,2001

Dear Paulie,

April 11, 2004, will be your 37th birthday.

I’m not sure where the time has gone, but I wanted you to know that we still think of you daily. Your pictures are always near by, and it’s hard not to think that you are not here. I just need to share the following with all who read this message on your memorial site. I love you and miss you very much; DAD.

Did I really forget to post a birthday message last year? I went through my files and couldn’t find any, maybe I misplaced it?

I know that last year at this time Georgette and I were packing up all our belongings in the Pocono house. Her birthday which is the next day after yours is sometimes sad and hard to celebrate. Last year we decided to finally make our move to Jupiter, Florida, I retired at the end of April, and we sold our Condo the beginning of May. The Pocono house did not sell as well as we thought it may have, but since it rained every weekend, it was a tough chore getting the real estate people to try and get people up to look at it during the constant rainy week ends, etc. I know you loved going up there with Tina and the kids, just seeing you relax and enjoy yourself gave Georgette and I much pleasure.

The views looking from our mountain top home and seeing the valley below us and mountains in the distance really gave us a sense of peace when we were there. After you were gone from us, it didn’t have the same effect. We always sensed your presence there, as well as in College Point where we had family gatherings.

So we knew we wanted to be away from New York City and its presence of insecurity. Jupiter was a good alternative for us, since we had good friends down here and the area we wanted to live in became available to us.

The Tuscany style home we have here is very nice, just enough room. I originally wanted to make a display area in the garage for you and your items, but that would have not served a good purpose, since after a while with all the heat and humidity it would not have lasted. So I searched around for a display case and finally found a beautiful one on the internet from Herman Miller. At least now when people come to visit or stop over, it is so nice to have a treasury of items that reflected you and your firefighter items.

When we went to register our cars here in Florida, we also had special tags in your memory, mine is ..911Hero.. and Georgette’s is PJG FDNY. We get some interest from many folks, and they thank you for your sacrifice when we tell them the story behind the plates. This is interesting, before we went back to New York for Sept.11th, The Jupiter Courier our local newspaper did a follow up article and published a story and photo of the 911 plate.

We want you to know Paul, that you are not forgotten; so many beautiful things and events are still happening for your memory since we moved to Jupiter. The Street Naming Ceremony in New York was a terrific outpouring of family, friends, neighbors and firefighters. We met your closest firefighter buddy there, Joe Lennon. He was totally in tears and we have been communicating. A few months ago he was in a mattress factory fire and the burning rubbish fell on him and he had to be hospitalized. We know you were looking over him, since he has recovered!

In Delray Beach, they had the Portraits of Grief exhibit in the Museum at School House Square. We visited with Scott and Essey and your painting as well as a number of your brothers were there on display also. So many people wrote beautiful messages in the memory books set out, and as we read them, it was hard not to hold back the tears.

On September 11th, when Georgette and I were in New York for the ceremonies, Scott and Essie went over to Roger Dean Stadium where a special event was taking place to honor those lost on 911. We gave Scott and Essey your Photo to hold up, and everyone in the crowd gave you a standing ovation. Buddy Jewel the Nashville Star singer and the Boynton Beach Little League World Champions were also at the event and presented to Scott to give to us an autographed baseball with their names, which we keep in the display case.

Another good person who has come into our lives is Mark Oristano. Such strange ways God has for people to find us.. Mark was an announcer for the Dallas Cowboys via NBC radio, and was in New York just after the buildings came down. He took a series of pictures and then traveling home he sat next to someone on the airplane who was reading and a bookmark with your artwork and name caught his eye. His wife’s relatives had the same last name, and he then found out about you and your bravery. He then went on your website and was able to contact us. Since they live in Texas, they visit their relatives who live a few miles from here in Hobe Sound. So to make a long story short, Mark gave up his job in pursuit of better humanitarian interests and is putting together a play about 911 in Texas. So this year for the anniversary, we won’t be in New York but to attend the play, which you will have a good part in.

We found our church here in Florida because of you, and we thank you. We were visiting Jupiter First Church nearby last July, and when we entered the first song the choir sang was “It Is Well With My Soul “, and when the minister read his sermon it was from “ The Book of Paul”

God is good and merciful, and He is granting us peace. It is hard sometimes for me to accept his gifts, but I know that you are within his embrace. Yes, the days are going by swiftly. The pain that comes is when I realized there is nothing here on earth that will bring you back, the tears are from genuine Love for you. But I have to realize God’s plan. That he Gave his own Son for us, that we that believe will have everlasting life and we will see each other again. This year, both Easter and Paul’s birthday have the same date April 11th . Another affirmation that God is in control of our destiny.

Although I still have hurts and tears, I want to thank everyone for Paul’s sake, that this coming year we continue his tributes and remembrances, to write us and let us write you back. Keep up the good fight with the politicians down at ground zero, and thank you for all your love to us.

Happy Birthday to my Son.

Dear Paul,

Happy Birthday, my brave hero.

It is hard to believe it has been 2-1/2 years since you were taken from us. It seems so much longer.

Your birthday falls on Easter this year and the next day is my birthday. A lot of good memories of celebrations together, but sadness too.

So much has changed for your dad & me this past year. We finally were able to get out of NY and all the painful reminders. We have found some peace here in Florida, but there is no escaping the memories.

You are always in our hearts and we think of you every day. It is hard to be away from Aaron & Joshua, but we have spent time together since we moved and they will be coming to visit for the summer.

I am now working for the Fire Academy here in Palm Beach County – with the recruits and firefighter instructors. Your name is on a poster hanging in the office honoring the FDNY heroes -- it is painful to see. Your dad and I attended a recruit class graduation this week and thought of you and the pride we felt when you became one of New York’s bravest. The Fire Academy is dedicating their new fire truck to you –a wonderful honor & tribute.

I am trying to be grateful for God's blessings and let go of the anger -- but I am not always successful. What has helped is the wonderful community in which we live. There are young families with children all around. Two special children next door -- a little girl and boy (a Yankee fan) bring special joy to our lives. They help fill the hole in our hearts.

Paul, you are not forgotten -- our home is filled with tributes to you and our license plates honor you.

I love you and miss you.


April 11, 2005


Dear Paulie,

Happy Birthday my Son.

I’m sad today, because you are not here, but I know that your spirit invades not only my life, but everyone who loves you and misses you.

On April 09, we received your Tribute Books. They are a wonderful remembrance of your life and your accomplishments. It is so hard for me to read through it, since my tears shed when I see what a wonderful person you were.

We know that you are around us, and are glad that you are in heaven with our Lord and your firefighting brothers.

Another year has passed and I feel guilty when on some days I didn’t remember to say I love you and miss you. Your picture is on my night stand and your Display Case in my den are full of mementoes that remind me of who you are and that now you are in a better place.

We will be sending out copies of your Tribute Book to families and friends this coming week.

Georgette was so great at pulling it all together: The Stories, Photos, Artwork, Poetry, and getting everyone involved to make it happen. She loves you and misses you as much or more than me.

The Boys, Aaron and Josh are doing well. We had them down in July and had a great time together. We really haven’t talked about you, since I know the pain would start, but in time they will open up and speak to me. They see your remembrances here and I’m so glad to be their Grandpa John and Georgette their Grammy.

They are safe, so be happy for them.

We Love and Miss you.

Happy Birthday, DAD

April 11, 2006

Dear Paulie,

Happy Birthday to my Son.

Today you would have been 39 years old. It has been nearly five years since that tragic event took your life and so many others. It always seems like yesterday to me and Georgette. Georgette had your art-work framed and they are beautifully displayed in our bedroom. She never forgets to mention your wonderful talents to others.

We still honor you and your memory by making sure that your name is not forgotten. I hand out your “honor cards” to those with whom I play golf, and today Georgette and I were so happy to see flowers in your honor at the table in our church (“Jupiter First”). We also request when we make donations to charities, that they do so in honor of you.

This past year you were joined in heaven by my mother Ruby (Grammy) and your mother-in-law Caroline. They, too, are greatly missed.

We are going to visit Michelle this coming May, and look forward to seeing your niece and nephew, Skye and Luke. Skye is a bundle of energy and is talking up a storm. Luke is saying Da da da, and we can’t wait to be near them. We will also be visiting with Tina and Dave. Aaron and Josh are really doing well, in fact Aaron is graduating with honors and is making you really proud that he is your son. Josh is also doing so great in school and is so bright. We love them as you did.

I recall when I was 39, you were 15. I think back to those days when you were in Martin Luther and holding on to those wrestling championships, how you were not yet a senior, and sang in the senior production of “Grease” -- you and Michelle were both were so great! Martin Luther still honors your name in their publications.

Another year again has passed and I still feel guilty when on some days I didn’t remember to say I love you and miss you. Your pictures remain on my night stand and remind me of who you are and that you are in a better place.

We Love and Miss you.
Happy Birthday,

April 11, 2006

Dear Paul, Today we celebrate your birthday – what would have been your 39th. Every day we celebrate your life. My birthday is tomorrow and it is still an especially painful time for me.

We have suffered additional losses in our family and have also been blessed with new babies to love and cherish. But every happy occasion is a sad reminder that you are not here to share in the joy.

The past years have brought some measure of healing or acceptance, but there are moments (too many) when the pain is as raw as ever. Something or somebody will bring you back with a vividness that is amazing.

You will never be forgotten – I think of you every day and will miss you forever. Happy Birthday, my young hero.


April 12, 2006

Hey Paulie....

It was your birthday yesterday....and how I missed having the opportunity to pick up the phone just to wish you "Happy Birthday". It's been months since I've checked out this site...but as you know, I've finally made you an "Uncle Paulie" second time here. Little Luke Paul is 7 months now and Skye Paulina (2 1/2) is such a great big sister. Skye looked at your picture the other day and acknowledged you and exclaimed "he's on the waterfall!" And I said, "yes, your Uncle Paulie is on the waterfall up in heaven, looking down on you as your guardian angel". It makes me so sad to know that they'll never get the opportunity to know you here in this life time. But soon enough, we'll all be together again some day.

Thanks for popping in to say "Hello" to me every now and then with your little signing on the digital clocks. It seems that I often just happen to glance over at the clock and it says 9:11 when I'm not even aware of checking the time. I know you're up there sending your love to us.

Keep on "Shining On" little brother.

I love you....


Hey Paul,

It's now 10:30pm on September 11th, 2006. Today was a really hard day. Harder than the last 4 anniversaries were. I watched the ceremonies and just cried most of the day.

Five years have passed since that morning when you took Joshua to school and said see you later! We never saw you again.

There isn't a day that goes by that your boys, Aaron, Joshua and I don't remember you. We tell lots of stories to each other (and to everyone else who will listen) about our memories. They love to hear me tell them all about our childhood, youth group, our dating, our marriage and when they were little. I framed you artwork and it hangs all over the house. Your pictures are all over the boy's rooms.

Aaron is now 19 years old and such a sweetheart. Who would have thought that when he was little and we were told he was legally blind, had a kidney disease, on dialysis and was autistic that he'd never amount to anything?.... Well, he just graduated High School with a B+ average, was inducted into the National Honors Society, and is going to College now. He's worked at a newspaper for two years and now is working computers/accounting for our church. During his graduation, when he went up to get his diploma, the whole school cheered for him. We built an apartment above the garage and so now he lives in his "own" place. He's still on dialysis but he is doing well and handles everything with grace. He's learned to joke around and to be able to take a joke. We still have to remind him sometimes that hey, so and so was teasing you. His response is always OH! OK! He has all sorts of memorabilia and pictures and plaques of you. He even has your huge oil portrait in his closet (It was the only wall left!) He's Mr. Popularity, just like you were. No matter where we go, there is some girl saying "Hi Aaron." He always blushes and says she's just a friend mom! Really!

Joshua is 16 now and so much like you it's scary. He look a lot like me but you can see you everywhere in him. He has your mannerisms -- he'll look at me and cock his head to the side and smile just the way you used to. Sometimes he'll be walking towards me and I'll see him from the corner of my eye and I do a double take. He's got your humor and my stubbornness. We love to argue with each other but I always win. =o) He has a beautiful heart. He has your T-shirt and Firefighter's plaque in his room, placed so when he wakes up it's the first thing he sees. He's really into baseball and most sports. He plays baseball all year round. He was the manager of his high school baseball team last year. They just offered him the job as manager for the varsity soccer team today. He wants to do something with children so he is the Children's Church assistant on Sundays. He loves it. He's gearing to be a teacher or something that has to do with children. Maybe he'll be a youth pastor someday, just like you once wanted to be.

They both love the Lord with all their heart. You would be so proud of the Men they have turned out to be.

We are still close to your dad John, Georgette and your sister Shelly. We see them several times a year and keep in contact through emails and phone calls.

As for me, I married a wonderful man named Dave who loves me and the kids. We now have a 14 month old baby named DJ. Aaron & Joshua are crazy over him and Joshua has turned into a Mr. Mom. He can change diapers and everything. I also have two stepsons that live with us, Christopher, who is also 19 and Andrew, who is 10, so there are 5 boys in the house. They all get along amazingly well and you'd never know that they were step-siblings. They fight and wrestle and love each other just as brothers do.

I am the Choir Director at church. You know how much I always loved the choir. I know you used to always ask me to sing for you but I was too shy...now I sing all the time. Maybe where you are you can hear me.

We have begun the healing process and are moving on with life and are happy, but it's a day-by-day thing. We will always remember you Paul and I will never allow your children to forget your memory or all the memories that we made together with them. You will always live on through them.

Take care until we see you again, Tina

Dear Paul,

The Fifth Anniversary – five years past and our hearts are still broken. Isn’t it supposed to get easier? This year’s anniversary was almost as bad as the first. So much media coverage – the buildings burning and collapsing over & over again.

Your dad & I attended a 9/11 memorial in West Palm Beach with the Southeast Florida Firefighters. Your dad held the large poster of you for all to see. Photos of your dad holding the poster made every newspaper and we were interviewed by every local television station. ABC Video Interview

Two stations put a link to your website on theirs. So many people have visited your website. They feel as though they now know you and while they mourn your loss, they also celebrate your life. You have touched so many, Paul.

We felt your presence in Church on Sunday, September 10th when the choir sang “It Is Well With My Soul” and on Monday, September 11th -- your dad parked in space #54 when we attended the memorial.

CNN called on September 12th asking to interview us for a special that Larry King was producing about your firehouse and the fallen heroes. Tina, Aaron & Joshua were interviewed also. I was nervous about appearing on television, but wanted to do it for you. When the interview started, the nervousness fell away and I felt your presence giving me strength. Mark Oristano calls it "The Power of Paul."

Your children did so well – I know you are so proud. They read the poem you wrote for them “I Love My Kids.” Your amazing artwork was aired for the world to see.

We visited the family up North this year and Aaron & Joshua spent time with us in Florida during their summer vacation. We had a good time -- Grandpa took them all over. We spoke of you often.

You are never out of our thoughts or our hearts.

I love you and miss you, my young hero.


Dear Paulie,

One of the hardest things for me to grasp is that you are not here with us in the physical. Not here to celebrate with us in family functions, meet your neice Skye Paulina and nephew Luke Paul, not here to speak with on the phone, not here to spar with over issues for debate, not here to see what new artwork you might be working on, not here to share your expertise in carpentry, not here to share jokes and laughs, etc, etc.

God willing, I'll have many more years ahead of me...but without my only sibling, my little brother.

I keep telling myself to think of 9-11 as your "re-birth day"...the day you went to be reborn again in the presence of our Lord. And one day soon, we will be able to share and make new memories together...just not here..but in heaven.

I love you & miss you always.

Your sister, Shell

I wrote something for you, Paul...


I used to look in the mirror and see a face,
But now I look down from the heavens only through God’s grace.
I used to laugh from deep within my heart,
But now I smile even though we’re apart.
I used to throw the ball for my son,
But now I silently cheer him on.
I used to wake up and kiss my wife,
But now I catch the tears she wipes.
I sit and I wait,
But I know this was my fate.
I’ll see them again soon,
Some warm and beautiful afternoon,
When the wind is still,
And my arms ready to be filled.


©Kayla Purvis
Kayla's Tribute to Paul

Paulie no matter what happened to you and your life, You’re still the best hero in the world to me.

Love ya.

April 11, 2008

Dear Paulie,

Happy 41st!

We miss you a lot and often. This past Easter holiday was very hard on Georgette & me as our best friends’ son Jacob Paul (Jackie) died suddenly & unexpectedly. We are sure that the Jackie is in heaven with you playing ball and shooting baskets.

Every year is hard since you are not with us but we know that you are in God’s presence every day and have a joy and peace we do not understand.

Everyone misses you and one day we will all be together again.

I am glad that I have a group of young people at our church that on Sunday evenings share with me in worship & music. I hope that their faith in Jesus stays strong in their young lives and they walk in His steps.

We went to Israel with our Church this past year and have truly been blessed by visiting the Holy Land. We are renewing our faith and growing stronger in Christ.

I’ll write again.

Happy Birthday, Paulie.



Dear Paul,

Another birthday in Heaven for you, my young hero, and this time you are joined by another “son” of mine – Jacob Paul (Jackie).

As I write this message to you, I am heartbroken and in shock & pain once again at losing someone I love so much who was so young – just as we lost you, suddenly & unexpectedly.

It took six long years to find my faith again – beginning with bible study & a trip to the Holy Land. I was just starting to find some peace & acceptance and once again find myself tested in no way that a parent should ever be. Your dad says he feel like Job. We are both putting ourselves in God’s hands to help us through this and to be strong for Jackie’s parents (our best friends), daughter, brother and family.

I have known Jackie since he was born and never knew his middle name was Paul --which I learned at his wake. As we never recovered your earthly body, your dad felt as though you were “buried” with Jackie and that the two of you are together in Heaven and filled with peace & joy. Your dad has said that you, Jackie & Jesus represent a trinity of love for us – your age when you died: 34, 33 (Jesus), 32 (Jackie).

I miss you every day.



Though it's not quite your birthday, I didn't want to wait until tomorrow to post this. Love you, my hero.

Paul –

I wish I could sit here and write a long letter to you, telling you how I miss all the memories. But I never knew you when you were alive. All I can say is, happy birthday, my dear friend. I’m so happy that I get to share my birthday with you; it makes me feel like that’s our special thing. I wish I had been able to meet you before you died…and I know I’ll get to someday. But for now, I get to honor what I know to be your memory. My friend, that is just as much a privilege as getting to know you.

I’ve got a picture of you (your Ladder 119 picture) up on it’s own shelf with an FDNY patch, Engine 54 patch, and a rose. There’s also a small wooden, carved woman holding a folded flag; it’s called “Hero”. I got it from my grandparents for my birthday this year. I thought of you, and so it went on your shelf.

I talk with Tina a lot, less often with Joshua. And I e-mail your parents fairly often. Mark Oristano and I like to share stories whenever one comes up; it’s nice to know someone who has the same type of connection with you.

Have a wonderful birthday, Paul. Mine will always be special now, knowing that it was your birthday too. Here’s to our second birthday together. I will remember who you are and honor you always. Like I’ve said before; no matter what happened, you will always be the greatest hero in the world to me. Don’t worry about anything.

Your family misses you, and they love you. I love you too. So, happy birthday, my friend. See you one day…



September 09, 2008

To my precious Son and Hero, Paulie. Now 7 years of anniversaries are coming up in a few days, and I am not sure why they call them anniversaries, since there is really nothing to celebrate. I think of this time gone by as a time that we will soon be nearer to each other again. Here I am -- 65 years old, and starting my senior age, which means I will definitely be coming to see you and Our Lord sooner than later. I now have a peace in my heart, which I attribute to you. You have been around us in so many ways… Our visit to Orlando in July, when we saw firefighters wearing tee-shirts at the pool… and when we went to dinner outside the hotel one evening, the place we thought we were going to eat in, was not to our liking, so we moved down a few stores to an Italian restaurant, and it did not smell too good, so we were going to go to Publix to pick up sandwiches and take them back to the hotel to eat, when we noticed an Italian pizza/sub-shop.

We went in, and had the finest white pizza this side of New York We know you and Jackie led us to that place because the address on the sign was 54-??, and another thing, as we were eating, a couple came in, and I didn’t see their faces, but the man was wearing a 343 FDNY shirt… so I called out to him to come over, and what a surprise it was to find out that this young man was Paul Ragaglia, whose brother was Lenny (Rags ), your Brother in your 54 Engine, 4 Truck, Battalion 9 outfit. Other signs were that there was an Engine 54 company right around the corner from where we were eating; the bill came to $54.28 and when we filled up with gas, the total was $54.

Thank you Paulie, for looking after all of us.

Oh boy, I do miss you with all my heart. I remember you always were a peaceful type of person, more laid back and in touch with yourself, knowing that you always cared so much for others.

Now this year, the hole in our hearts (Georgette’s and mine) we know will never mend. Yet we are happy that you are around us in spirit. This year Chris McKnight is putting on a service at the Jupiter Lighthouse here. He is a wonderful man; kind of reminds me of you -- not in looks but his spirit. He will display artifacts from Ground Zero as well as your photos and the play that Mark Oristano did about you. We were interviewed in the local paper. It was a nice story, but not all about you, but how Georgette and I are doing down here in Florida. Our lifestyle has changed, but we will never forget you or your brothers, for what you have done. Michelle misses you, and is going to Ground Zero with your mom. That is quite a heartache. I know you watch over her as well.

We took a tour to Israel, and our Lord’s presence was around. We put your card with a prayer in the wailing wall. We were both glad for the experience of seeing the Holy Land and have come back inspired and feel ourselves strengthened. You were there with us also, making sure we were on the “right bus” with the church staff… a lot of God’s good grace has been multiplied since that encounter.

Oh!, I do wish you were alive and here with us, to share laugher, sorrows, prayers, and more good times together. I really, truly miss you my Son. I still cry at times, not as often as in the past, but when certain things happen and I know you are around, I become more sensitive. Evangel Church will have flowers for you as well a message by Pastor Johannsson.

I am closing this note, with the realization that you are with Jesus. That you do not suffer or feel pain, that you have changed into our Angel who will be there for us. You are at peace as God wills it, yet for a time we here on earth will have our share of sorrows and pain, good times and bad, but through it all, we know we can count on Christ who will redeem us also.

I am happy for your children Aaron and Joshua. Josh went out to Missouri to Evangel College and may one day be an excellent minister for Christ Jesus. Aaron is searching for a job, now that he has finished his college program. We always pray for both of them. Tina, bless her heart, has really turned her eyes back to her Savior, and is diligent in staying on the right path.

There is so much more to tell, but life being what it is, there is no describing the absolute destruction and lives that were lost on that fateful day. You did your job proudly son,

I Love you so very much,


Hi Paul,

It is 12:30 a.m. on September 9, 2008, and I cannot sleep. With the anniversary approaching, thoughts of your tear at my heart. This is the first year your dad & I won’t be home or traveling to some memorial to honor you and your fallen brothers.

In some ways, it’s a good thing; in others, I feel lost. But, no matter where we are, no matter the day, you fill our hearts, our minds and our souls.

Uncle Steve and our dear friends Scott & Essie will be standing in for us at the Jupiter Lighthouse memorial where “And Crown Thy Good” will play. It’s good for your dad that Steve has moved close by. Thank you for that. And thank you also for sending Rob into your dad’s life. He has become very close to your father. They share a love of Christ and a love of Christian music. Your dad is exhausting me with our gospel brunches : ), but I do enjoy them also. I always feel your presence and your spirit in Church, particularly when singing. I know you led us to this Church and I have found some semblance of peace there.

So, my dear “son of my heart”, I close this message with tears in my eyes, missing you so and still wishing that I could rewrite history.

All my love,


April 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Paul.

This year your absence is especially hard as my birthday falls on Easter and Michelle, Joe, Skye Paulina and Luke Paul are with us this year. I am remembering all our shared birthday celebrations & the Easters we spent together.

When Skye & Luke walked into the house & saw your portrait, they said "that's Uncle Paul." Michelle is keeping you alive in their lives so they will know you.

We will go to Church tomorrow morning and I know I will feel your presence there so much more strongly -- as I always do.

I know you are with God and at peace and that does give me some comfort.

Say hi to Jackie and tell him we love & miss him also.



April 11, 2009

Dear Paulie,

April 11, 2009 -- your 42nd birthday, and although I am still sad, I am now able to recognize what God has done. I know you are in Heaven, and you watch out for us.

Michelle, Joe, Skye and Luke are down here for Easter. What a blessing that is to us. Luke is so full of energy; he reminds me of you when you were 3 years old. Skye is really a small Princess; she is now 5 years old, and really cute.

Josh is now going to be coaching Little League this summer in Connecticut; bet you’re glad he’s in a Christian College. Aaron is still looking for a small job somewhere, and Tina seems to be doing well.

I cannot believe how time is passing by; not that things get better, but Georgette and I are growing closer to Jesus in these years. I’m working with the Youth Group here at Jupiter First, and they are a great bunch of teens, I enjoy their music as well.

Put in a good word for us with God, and let him know we are trying down here, the world is still a mess and only when Jesus returns will we find everlasting peace and love, and most important, I will be able to see you again.

And thanks be to God for His love and mercy, as we celebrate this Easter and Christ’s resurrection.

Happy Birthday to my Son.



September 11, 2009

Dear Paulie,

Eight years…Time seems to be slipping by. I often wonder “How are you?” and attempt a conversation which appears to be one-way. Yet this we know – You do hear us and somehow or another, you are keeping an eye on us and letting us know in little ways that you hear us. We get vibes or signs – just little things, to make us aware that you are safe and in Heaven.

There are days that pass that maybe I forget to say something to you and I truly feel guilty about it and here I am – getting older, but not wiser.

Eternal life, Paulie, is what you now have and it must be joyful to you to be with our Lord. I’m sure you see everything through your “soul” and you see the sadness and sorrow that still prevails with us here on earth since 9/11.

As we are moving forward, we are always striving to be more “Christ like” than of this earth, but it is a difficult path – one day you feel “holy”, the next day, you don’t. So I envy you that you now see everything differently and always knowing that you loved and cared for so many here on earth, who were your family and friends.

This year we are going to Port St. Lucie on 9/11 for a church mass and to Tradition Field to leave a wreath on a piece of steel from the World Trade Center – a memorial with the FDNY Florida Retirees. Many of your brothers are holding fast to the “We Will Never Forget” promise. There appears to be “politics as usual” sometimes at these events and Georgette and I just want to remember and honor not only you, but all the others who served and gave of themselves on that tragic day.

No son, we won’t forget, because we still think of you – you’re not being here leaves an empty feeling, especially during the holidays, birthdays, vacations. I recently watched your memorial service on DVD and Pastor Johansson’s words just kept jumping

out to me. “Today is Friday, but Sunday is coming. For Christ died on Friday and his resurrection was on Sunday. For without his resurrection, there would be no hope.” I am happy that you believed in our Risen Savior, that you did not feel the pain of death, nor the others who came to believe in their final moments.

I have this hope, that some day when we cease living on this earth that we will come together again and we will rejoice and never will there be sadness.

There is much going on in our lives as we continue to serve our Lord. We serve as Deacons at Jupiter First Church and I also participate in the teen programs.

Tina is fine; Aaron was baptized and Josh is in Christian College. He just got his driver’s license as well, but I guess you already know this. I know they miss you.

Shelly is doing great, especially in this down market. Luke is a talker and an imp and Skye is still a princess. I know Shelly misses you terribly. Same with your mom and all the relatives who love you.

Let me always not forget how wonderful a son you were, through the good and bad times we had. You were always patient and helpful to others. Your website still receives a lot of mail and visits. Georgette has truly honored you with the work she’s done to maintain it.

I miss you son, always will.

With all my love and affection,

In His Name,


September 11, 2009

Hi Paul,

Eight years today – so hard to believe. I have come to hate this day. I dread the weeks and days leading up to it.

Eight years later and most of the time I can put out of my mind how you died. Eight years later and most of the time, I don’t see the buildings burning and falling. Eight years later and most of the time, I don’t wake up with my heart pounding. Eight years later and most of the time, I just miss you so much and remember all the good times we shared as a family. Eight years later, and I still cannot talk about you without crying. Eight years later and birthdays, Easter, Christmas and all the holidays are just days on the calendar.

But on this day, I remember so vividly how you were taken and I wonder “Did he know he was going to die”. “Did you die in the first collapse or the second?” “Did you lay there suffering?”

Eight years later, and I still can remember collapsing when getting the call that you were missing. Eight years later, and I still can hear your dad’s screams, moans and wails. Eight years later, and I still can remember seeing him age 20 years in an instant. Eight years later, and I still can remember thinking “I’m going to lose him too.”

Eight years later, and I still can remember the sights and smells of Ground Zero a week later. Eight years later, and I can remember sitting through your memorial service in a trance. Eight years later, and I still see the hundreds of missing posters all over Manhattan – the faces of so many, so full of life smiling out at us. Eight years later and I can still remember your firehouse full of grieving relatives and your brother firefighters trying so hard to be brave for us while their hearts were breaking. Eight years later and I can remember wondering when I was going to wake up and find this was just a bad dream, a very bad dream.

Eight years later and I have finally found my faith again. Eight years later and I know in my heart that you are with Our Lord and at peace. Eight years later and I know in my heart you are watching over us, all the time. Eight years later and we are still getting so many signs from you.

Eight years later and your children have grown into fine young men. Eight years later and you have a beautiful niece Skye Paulina and adorable nephew Luke Paul – who reminds me of you. Eight years later and although you never lived to meet them, you are alive through the photos and stories Michelle shares with them. Eight years later and they know their “Uncle Paulie” was a hero.

Eight years later and your dad & I are living in Florida, where I had hoped you would live also. Eight years later & I can thank God for putting you in my life and finally stop blaming Him for taking you from us.

Eight years later and so much has changed but one thing is the same -- you are still alive in the hearts of all you love you so very much and miss you so terribly.

All my love,


April 11, 2010

Dear Paulie,


I’m writing to wish you a Happy “43rd” Birthday. I really suppose that where you are right now is probably the best – to be with all the angels and seeing Jesus our Savior.

I bet that you are learning and seeing so much of how our world began, the beginning of time and how our wonderful God created all things. How you must be in awe of the entire universe; to visit the end of creation. So you must be real busy up there, talking to your grandparents and loved ones who have gone before you.

It is still sad not having you amongst us, yet you have a peace and joy that it beyond understanding. Many times I think back as you were growing up and although we had many good times together, I can’t help thinking maybe I wasn’t always as good a dad as I should have been and for those times, I am truly sorry.

As I get older, I truly pray that I come closer to our Lord and the promise of life eternal. My happiness will be seeing you again.

Thank you for our years we had together and I look forward after this life to wish you many more joyous birthdays.

Miss you.



April 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Your dad and I just returned from Church. Today’s service was a Youth Concert. How appropriate for your birthday! I’m remembering all the services we shared together as a family, especially the Easter services because they usually fell on or near our birthdays.

Thank you for all the signs that you are watching over us. Twice in the past week, fire trucks on television had the number “54” on them. When I see this, I feel comforted. It happens so often, I know it is not a coincidence but your way of letting us know you are with our Lord and smiling down on us always.

You are missed more than words can express, always remembered and forever loved.


P.S. Give Jackie a hug from me.

September 11, 2010

Dear Paul,

It is 9 years now and as I look back, it is as vivid now as it was then. I finally read the After Action Report that Michelle sent to me four years ago. The narrative of your company, as well as Engine 74 really shook me up. I won’t go into details, but you and everyone there were true heroes for the people who were saved and pulled out of the rubble.

I have discs from the FDNY which are all the emergency recordings and I think I never want to hear them. We have a precious voice recording from you from a Christmas message and that’s enough for me.

This past year, we attended the WTC beam arrival at Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Station 3 on Northlake Boulevard. They will have a ceremony dedicating the tribute area on September 11th and we will be there. Last year we were in Port St. Lucie and your Uncle Steve has attended both events.

I think it is very nice that there are many memorials scattered up & down the East Coast. Last year Michelle took me to one in New Jersey and it was all grass and trees, with a beautiful fountain and glass panels etched with the names of all who perished. So I am glad that a tribute area will be close to us, where you will be honored.

Going back to New York City and Engine 54 is just so very sad. I go there and my heart breaks when I look at all the photos on the wall of those who were lost in the towers’ collapse. But it may be that on the 10th anniversary we will go back and pay tribute there.

Paul, you cannot believe the influence you still have in our lives, including all your aunts, uncles and cousins. Whenever I talk to them, it’s like you have somehow spoken to them as well. You certainly make the biggest impacts on Georgette and Michelle. Georgette constantly sees Engine 54 trucks on many television shows, not just in New York City, but all over the country where they film these movies or programs. So she sees the message and hears you.

We were in Virginia Beach with Michelle, Joe, Skye and Luke over the 4th of July holiday and having a late dinner at Rudee’s Inlet where I noticed a young couple standing and trying to take a picture of themselves. I was wearing my FDNY shirt and asked them if I could help. Well, Paul, small world and another message from you -- the young man was Kevin Gilligan, a firefighter from 14 Truck in Philadelphia. Kevin took the FDNY test with you in 1992. He also took the test in Philadelphia and was accepted there sooner than the FDNY.

So just like when we went to Orlando in 2008 over the 4th of July weekend, and ran into Paul and Tracy Ragaglia, the brother & sister-in-law of your fallen brother Leonard Ragaglia from Engine 54 – at an out-of-the way pizzeria. I guess I naturally bump into those who knew of you. That gives me joy. We know you are communicating and really want to listen more closely. We know you are in God’s hands and you must be praying for us as we do for you.

God has shown me much grace and forgiveness this year and has eased the pain of losing you. His Grace and Love abounds in you and you are safe. My needs are now to focus more on Christ and the message of Love, Peace and Joy we can have in Him.

You are my only son, who I have lost, but I believe you are alive – different and rejoicing. You see the day, where we cannot, when we will once again be together.

The date – September 11th – will always be with us. Just like Pearl Harbor and D-Day. I pray to God that all those who perished for freedom and saving lives will have the mighty Grace of God’s Spirit, who will redeem them in His Presence.

I truly miss you Paulie. I truly love you and always will. Keep staying in touch so we can rejoice in Jesus Name.


September 11, 2010

Hi Paul,

Another year has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Another year of birthdays & holidays without you; another year of good times not shared with you.

A dear friend said last week “I don’t know how you & John do it”. I don’t have the answer to that. How does anyone get over losing a child? I guess the answer is “you never do” although as Linda said you “keep pouring stuff” into the hole in your heart. I really liked that. The “stuff” I am pouring is God, family and friends and in that I have been blessed.

I have felt your presence so much in the past year – with all your “Engine 54” messages and meeting Philadelphia firefighter Kevin Gilligan ( who took the 1992 FDNY test with you) over the 4th of July weekend in Virginia Beach. I have also met a young man who reminds me so much of you. He has your same sweet spirit and shares in your talent of artwork and poetry. I feel that I have a small piece of you back now – thank you for that. When I first met Vinnie, I told him of you. I don’t always do that, but for some reason this time I did. You have impacted his life in a huge way, as you have done for so many others who never met you. When that happens, I feel you are still with us – still making a difference -- living on in these people.

This year we will be going to a memorial at a local fire station with Uncle Steve and Jackie’s dad (give Jackie a hug from us). They have two beams from the World Trade Center and will be dedicating the memorial today. When the beams arrived on Memorial Day, I was blown away by how many people lined the streets and attended the ceremony. You and all who perished that day are not forgotten, Paul.

Miss you & love you,


April 11, 2011

Dear Paulie,

Happy Birthday Paul, My Son,

Another year already? 10 years? Over 3,650 days and each day is a year and then each day is a second.

This year will be a difficult year, the 9/11 anniversary is only 5 months away and it only feels like yesterday. Only recently, I finally decided to go through all the news clippings and get your scrap book finished. I’ve only gone through 2002 until present, so I still have to open the 2001 box. In a way I thought it would be good to have certain memories of the past, and I’m probably the only one with all the information. There’s just so much sadness in those papers, and even though it will be difficult for me, at least I know I preserved something of you for your next of kin and future generations. I’ll probably leave it to Michelle since she knows best how to preserve it.

I miss you, son – a lot. I wish there was a way to talk to you, besides prayer. You are constantly in my memory and I miss the birthday parties we used to have together. I hope this party now going on in Heaven is your best.

So continue to look upon Aaron, Josh, Tina, Michelle, Joe, Skye, Luke, Georgette, your mom and all your relatives and friends who miss you.

See you at Ground Zero, my son,



April 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Paul!

It’s so hard to believe that 10 years have passed – a decade since you celebrated your birthday here on earth. It still hurts too much to think about & remember. Sometimes I think I am in a state of suspended animation – existing on a level someplace between the past and reality. I think that’s the only way I can deal with the fact that 9/11 really happened. Even now, typing this message, I typed the date as April 11, 2001 – six months before the world as we know it ended.

Today you would have been 44 and tomorrow is my birthday; but I can no longer truly celebrate my birthday having lost you so young. So many times I wish it were me gone and you here with your children, dad, sister and other family & friends. But it’s not for me to question God.

Thank you again for all the “54” signs from Heaven. It is incredible how many times 54 flashes in front of my eyes – a clear signal from you – that you are at peace, happy in Heaven and watching over us all.

And we are going to need your strength to get through the 10 year anniversary – a big one – with the opening of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero. We are bombarded daily with emails and letters about the anniversary. One recently talked about the “unidentified remains” being interred at Ground Zero and a special family reflection room. To know that you are in those “unidentified remains” hurts; your dad broke down & cried at my mother’s wake 8 years ago on the second anniversary (9/11/2003) “I never got a chance to see my son – he just disappeared.”

The way I like to think about it – the way I have to think about it – is that you “disappeared” straight up to Heaven! So, Happy Birthday in Heaven, Paul. I love you & miss you so much.


P.S. Give Jackie a hug from me.

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