Published On: Pon, ruj 13th, 2021

Remembering Lieutenant Anthony Jovic, 20 Years After the 9/11 Attacks

September 9, 2021 – On the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, we remember the lives lost that fateful day, including that of Lieutenant Anthony Jovic, the son of Croatian immigrants, who died at age 39.

On a date like today, but 20 years ago, the world shook at the news of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. The shocking images went around the world live and on all the news on the planet. The world surely changed that day, and twenty years later the memory is still present. Moreover, after the recent events in Afghanistan, with the official withdrawal of US troops in Kabul and the installation of the new Taliban government, it has been weeks of reflection for people all over the planet after 20 years that ended a failed war.

But today, beyond the events that occurred as a consequence, serves to pay tribute to the civilians who lost their lives that day, as well as the hundreds of firefighters who tried to save them. In addition to the nearly 25,000 injured, the attack carried out by the terrorist organization Al Qaeda claimed a total of 2,977 victims, including 343 firefighters. And among those firefighters was Anthony Jovic.

Anthony Jovic’s name at Ground Zero (Photo: Richard Chemel)

Lieutenant Anthony Jovic, who considered himself an American Croat, was the son of Croatian immigrants and grew up in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. He belonged to Battalion 47, Ladder 34, and was working in Engine 279. This article pays tribute without exception to all the victims, their families, and loved ones, as well as the New York Fire Department. But, in the following lines written by the Bravest Memorial Foundation, we remember Anthony in a special way, who that day had a day off, but did not return home on September 9, 2001, at age 39.

In those first weeks after Lt. Anthony Jovic disappeared with other members of Engine Co. 279 at the World Trade Center, his wife, Cynthia, concentrated on being strong for his two boys, Matthew, 10, and Peter, 9. So she had a little psychological trick she played on herself to keep going. “I’d say, ‘He’s working today. He’s going to come home tonight,'” she recalled. “That night it would be, ‘OK, he’s working tonight, he’s going to come home tomorrow.’ Every day I’d tell myself the same thing.”

It was because Cynthia Jovic can’t imagine morning coffee without her husband of 16 years, a big kidder and hugger-and-kisser who never got through a day without several times telling her and the boys he loved them.

The son of a Croatian longshoreman who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, Jovic, 39, impressed all his friends as being smart enough to win the big one on “Jeopardy!”.

The couple met in Manhattan when he was working at a butcher shop on Ninth Avenue and she, also a Croatian immigrant and longshoreman’s daughter, was working at a deli nearby. When a cousin suggested they all go to an Irish pub in New Hyde Park, Jovic drove to pick her up in Manhattan in the most formal manner, allowing plenty of time to chat first with her mother and father at the house. For her old-fashioned European parents, his wife said, “it was love at first sight.” For the couple, too. They married 2 1/2 years later.

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Anthony Jovic with wife Cynthia (Photo: Voices Center for Resilience)

Jovic joined the city fire department 12 years ago, about the time the family moved from Elmhurst to Massapequa Park. He was aiming high, and once he made lieutenant was already spending every free day he could find to prepare for the captain’s exam, which he would have taken in October. When not working or studying, it was miniature golf, bowling, and lots of swimming with the family in the backyard pool. They were so close, she could finish his sentences for him.

“We were the happiest when we were together,” she said. Cynthia Jovic was watching CNN on Sept. 11; she knew it was bad, because her husband was working with the company in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that day.

“When that [south] tower came down, his soul went right through me. I knew it then, he just went through me and I knew he was gone,” she said. His burned and mangled shield turned up in the south tower in November, shortly before a memorial service was held, but no remains have been identified.

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Lieutenant Anthony Jovic (Photo: Voices Center for Resilience)

The memory of that moment has become a source of warmth and comfort lately, now that it’s no longer possible for her to pretend her husband is coming home tonight, or tomorrow morning, or the next day. Now, Cynthia Jovic knows, he’s with her and the kids all the time. “He always told me, ‘Every time they take an ID picture, I try to look nice, because you never know when they might be using it for a memorial.’ I’ll be honest with you, I think he looks wonderful in the picture that they have of him.” (By Elizabeth Moore on Newsday, February 5, 2002)

Two years ago, on September 7, 2019, the New York Post reported that Anthony’s eldest son, Matthew, had joined the Fire Department just as his father had, along with other 12 young New Yorkers who followed their parents’ steps.

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Anthony and his eldest son Matthew, who recently joined the New York Fire Department. (Photo: Voices Center for Resilience)

Our thoughts are with all those who, in one way or another, suffered and continue to suffer from the events that occurred twenty years ago.

For more about the Croatian Diaspora, visit our dedicated page here.

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