As the late summer sun beat down on Bernie Purcell on Main Road in Greenport, he had one thing on his mind: his fallen brother Keith.
In full uniform, Mr. Purcell and fellow Greenport Fire Department firefighter Dale Raynor walked about seven miles Wednesday along the roadway from the Greenport Firehouse on Third Street to Cochran Park in Peconic. Their jackets, darkened by thin layers of sweat, were weighed down by water bottles gifted by nearby residents.
With each step, the duo honored Keith, who died in 2000, and fallen heroes who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Purcell — who has been with the fire department for “so long that they built the building around him,” Mr. Raynor said — first walked from the fire station to Peconic three years ago. His motivation has always been his brother, who served with the Southold Fire Department for roughly 16 years before he suffered a heart attack at the scene of a house fire. He was 46.
“I wanted to do something different,” Mr. Purcell said, as he adjusted the fallen firefighter flag in his hands.
Passing cars and trucks honked in admiration as Mr. Purcell and Mr. Raynor made their way toward the 9/11 memorial. Members of the Southold Fire Department were expected to join the pair on their journey.
They arrived in Peconic for the annual ceremony in remembrance of the victims of the terrorist attack. Flags lined the area around the memorial, each one representing a victim of 9/11. Firefighters from North Fork departments each took turns saluting a wreath in front of the steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center.
Participating groups included the American Legion, Division 8 Southold Town fire departments, the 9/11 Committee and Southold Town Fire Chiefs Council.
Top photo caption: Bernie Purcell, right, and Dale Raynor on their journey Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)
See more photos from the ceremony in Peconic: