Mets raise families’ spirits on 9/11

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Eleven-year-old Matthew, who lost his father in the attacks on 9/11, gets a baseball signed by Mets pitcher Chris Young.
Eleven-year-old Matthew, who lost his father in the attacks on 9/11, gets a baseball signed by Mets pitcher Chris Young.

That last kiss replays in Carol Gies’s mind constantly.

It was a Tuesday morning, masquerading as any other day. As Ronnie Gies gathered his things and left the house for work at FDNY Squad 228 in Maspeth, he gently kissed his wife goodbye.

They didn’t know it was for the last time.

Ronnie, a dedicated member of the FDNY, lost his life on September 11, 2001 in his effort to rescue others from the collapse of the Twin Towers.

The couple met through Carol’s brother Tommy, who played on a local softball team with Ronnie in their Long Island hometown. The pair began dating in 1979 and was married on September 5, 1981.

Carol said their marriage matched their wedding song — “One in a Million.”

“You couldn’t ask for better,” said Carol. “He was perfect, he really was. Most people said that they never saw a marriage like what we had. It was very rare.”

In 1988, Ronnie became a firefighter.

Even though his profession demanded an intense schedule, Ronnie was an attentive and compassionate father for the couple’s three children – Tommy, Ronnie and Bobby. Carol said he was more like a best friend than a father to the three boys, a fixture in the audience at plays and games. Now that her sons are in their 20s and beginning families of their own, Carol says their father remains a guide for what it is to be a model parent.

“Today I look at them and I see traces of him in them. Each one of them,” she said. “That’s what makes it a little easier every day. There’s a part of him in every one of them.”

Sons Tommy and Ronnie are now firefighters. Bobby recently took his firefighter exam.

Every year on September 11, the family gathers together and goes to see the Mets play. Ronnie was a fan of the team and Carol says it’s the best way to keep everyone’s spirits up while celebrating something her husband loved.

“We try to do something positive,” said Carol. “I’m not the type to go to memorials. I try not to dwell on the negative. This way we celebrate Ronnie’s life.”

This year, the Gies family threw the first pitch at the Mets game on September 11.

Mets games have become an annual tradition for many families who lost loved ones in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Tuesday’s Children, an organization that provides support to the children of victims of 9/11, frequently brings kids to meet and chat with some of their most admired players.

“For families on a day like today when its Tuesday, September 11 and there’s not a cloud in the sky just like it was 11 years ago, to not have to think about what happened to them all day long and instead go to a game on a beautiful evening like tonight and be with the Mets who have become like a second family to all our family members is just incredible,” said Tuesday’s Children spokesperson Terry Sears.

Eleven-year-old Matthew, who also lost his father Michael in the attacks, was looking forward to hanging out with his favorite player, pitcher R.A. Dickey.

“It feels good to be here,” said Matthew. “I think it will cheer everyone up who’s here. It’s a very sad day in American history but it’s nice that they make everybody happy.”

Accompanied by mom Michelle, the pair agreed it was a good way to commemorate their loved one, adding they are considering make Mets games a new tradition on September 11.

Juliette Candela, a member of Tuesday’s Children, was nominated by the group to sing the National Anthem at the start of the game. The 18-year-old from New Jersey, whose father John was killed on September 11, 2001, was excited for the opportunity to sing the song, saying it was an honor and something she had always dreamed of.

“The song is really important for this country,” she said. “I feel like I’m singing this song in honor of my dad.”