Touched By Tragedy Twice: Father, Who Later Died from COVID, Remembers Losing Son on 9/11
Albert Petrocelli Sr. survived more than his share of hardships during his 73 years.
As a young man, he fought in Vietnam. Returning to his native New York City, he started a long career fighting fires, eventually rising to the rank of Battalion Chief. Then, a year after retiring, Chief Petrocelli lost his youngest son, Mark, a commodities broker, in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
But what war, fire, and unspeakable grief couldn’t do, a global pandemic did. On April 1, 2020, Chief Petrocelli died from COVID-19.
Before his death, Chief Petrocelli and his wife, Ginger, recorded a remembrance of their son Mark. They remember the last time they saw him, on September 9, 2001, at one of their family’s weekly Sunday meals.
This recording was made in partnership with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as part of StoryCorps’ effort to collect one recording for each life lost that day.
Top Photo: Ginger Petrocelli and Retired New York City Fire Chief Albert Petrocelli in 2017, at their 50th wedding anniversary. Courtesy of the Petrocelli family.
Middle Photo: Retired New York City Fire Chief Albert Petrocelli in 2002, with a photo of Mark that he carried inside his hat. Courtesy of the Petrocelli family.
Bottom Photo: Albert Petrocelli Jr., Mark Petrocelli, and Albert Petrocelli Sr. on Father’s Day 1989, at Mark’s home in New York. Courtesy of the Petrocelli family.
Originally aired September 11, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Reverend James Seawood
Reverend James Seawood grew up in the 1950s in Sheridan, Arkansas, and attended an all-black school.
The town’s main employer and landlord was a lumber mill. Following the federal mandate to integrate the public schools, the mill forced its African American employees and tenants out of town. As the population diminished, James’ mother became his school’s principal, janitor, and whatever else was needed.
At StoryCorps, he recalls how integration led to African Americans being forced out of his hometown, the human cost of “urban renewal,” and the fate of his beloved school.
Originally aired February 20, 2009, on NPR’s Morning Edition.