John McGovern of Gilbert is still angry. It’s been five years since his brother and dozens of friends were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, and he said he doesn’t feel any different than he did days afterward.
“I’m positive there’s going to be another attack,” said McGovern, 55. “And I wish we didn’t go to war. People are dying over there for nothing.”
McGovern was a New York City firefighter for 20 years in the Bronx. He took early retirement on April 12, 2001, because of lung problems.
He had wanted to be a firefighter since the fifth grade because he thought it would be an exciting job.
“I loved it,” said McGovern, who grew up in Queens Village. “I loved the work, the men. Every day was a party. It was fun to go to work.”
His brother, William “Billy” McGovern, became a firefighter a year before John. Billy worked in Manhattan.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Battalion Chief Billy McGovern was one of the first responders to the World Trade Center.
When John McGovern learned his brother was working that Sept. 11 morning, he said he knew his brother was dead.
“I knew nobody was going to walk out of there,” he said.
Billy McGovern died in the North Tower at age 49. His body was found nine days later.
When John McGovern heard planes had hit the World Trade Center, he said he knew immediately it was a terrorist attack. He had worked during the first attack on the World Trade Center in February 1993 and said he had a feeling they would be back.
His brother’s funeral was one of dozens of funerals McGovern attended after Sept. 11. He said he went to funerals for months, at least a couple a week, and estimates he lost at least 20 good friends.
He’s returned to ground zero several times since, and had hoped to go back for the fifth anniversary but is staying home because his mother is recuperating from surgery. He said he’ll attend a local ceremony instead.
“I hope the fifth anniversary wakes people up to start thinking about the next one, because it’s coming,” he said.
His mom, Julia McGovern, who also lives in Gilbert, said she’ll always have the anger and the sadness for what happened that day.
“Bill was larger than life, but I know there were thousands that got killed for no reason,” she said. “We’re all in our own little misery, our own little hole that we can’t get out of it. It was a horrible, horrible thing. Never in a thousand years did I think those buildings would come down.”