Sacrificing a small part of themselves was the most fitting tribute to the man who dedicated his life, even the final moments before his death, to helping others.
For the second year in a row, the firefighters of the rolled up their sleeves, along with other community members, and donated pints of blood Sunday during the second annual Robert DeAngelis Memorial Blood Drive.
DeAngelis, who served as an ex-chief of the Lakeview Fire Department and commissioner of the West Hempstead Fire District, died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The 47-year-old was working on the 91st floor of Tower One inside the offices of Washington Group International when the hijacked planes crashed in the World Trade Center. Immediately, DeAngelis went into action, using his life-saving skills and experience to escort numerous colleagues out of Tower One. He was last seen fielding telephone calls from worried family members of employees from within the World Trade Center, according to news reports. He never made it out, but died a hero.
Now, 11 years later though DeAngelis' legacy still burns bright among his fellow firefighters, family and friends, who gathered at his church, St. Thomas the Apostle in West Hempstead, Sunday morning. They then made their way to the Lakeview fire house, where a New York Blood Center truck was stationed outside.
Inside, photos of DeAngelis, nicknamed "Little Giant," rested on a table next to his fire helmet and a tracing of his name from the 9-11 memorial erected at Ground Zero. Every person who came forward to donate the gift of life that day could be reminded of the man who gave his all.