Retired FDNY Captain John Vigiano, who lost two sons on 9/11, was laid to rest Saturday after a long battle with cancer, at the age of 79.
His Long Island funeral was a moving tribute to the man who had such an impact on so many lives.
Vigiano joined the FDNY in 1962, working his way up to captain at Ladder Co. 176.
He retired after 36 years of serving the Brooklyn area.
Vigiano’s grandchildren were in attendance and spoke about their grandfather and the influence he had, especially after they lost their fathers on 9/11.
“A Marine, a fireman, a hero. He was all those things, but to me he was also grandpa. He had more than anything a love for life, a love for people, and a love for his family,” granddaughter Nicolette Vigiano said about her grandfather.
Vigiano died last Sunday, almost 18 years after his sons, John Jr. of the Fire Department and NYPD Detective Joseph, both died trying to rescue people from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Joseph’s body was recovered but John Jr.’s never was found.
Following 9/11, Vigiano spent six months at Ground Zero.
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“I had to be there. It was my presence. And up to five years ago, I used to get emails from young cops and firemen telling me no matter how tired they were, they would look up and they would see this old man sitting up on this piece of steel. And that would give them reason to stay longer. And I had no idea I was doing that,” Vigiano had said.
Joseph’s son, who is now 23, is in the Marine Corps and plans to be a police officer; his younger brother aspires to follow in the same footsteps, ABC 7 reported.
“He didn’t despair. He certainly grieved, but he never lost faith. He knew where his sons were. Maybe not their bodies, but he knew,” Monsignor John Delendick said during the eulogy.
“Saints aren’t people who are necessarily canonized. Saints are people who live their lives in the service of the Lord. John did that,” he added.
“We hear the words ‘hero’ or ‘legend’ thrown around all too easily today. John’s courage and heroism were second to none,” said former FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano.
In lieu of flowers, the family is accepting donations to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports first responders, veterans and their families.