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"A Fitting Tribute" by Stephen J. Cassidy, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York:

Fire Lines

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President's Message
By Stephen J. Cassidy

On June 10th a fitting memorial, dedicated to the 343 New York City Firefighters who died on 9-11, was unveiled at the quarters of Engine 10/Ladder 10. The 57-foot long, 6-foot high bronze bas-relief sculpture was commissioned by the law firm Holland and Knight, and will forever hang on the Greenwich Street side of the “Ten House.” The UFA Executive Board was honored to join hundreds of family members and friends at the emotional event.

Holland and Knight lost one of their own in the 9-11 terror attacks. Glenn Winuk, a partner in the firm and volunteer Firefighter / Paramedic with the Jericho Fire Department was last seen leaving Holland and Knight’s Broadway offices and entering the Towers to help rescue trapped individuals. Once it was discovered that he had died in the collapse of the South Tower, the firm sought a way to memorialize him and help those who were operating in the rescue and recovery efforts at the Site.

They began fundraising efforts in order to provide ice to cleanse and cool the eyes of the workers at Ground Zero. Nine weeks and 20 tons of ice later, their ICE campaign was no longer needed. Insisting more could be done, they turned their attention to a memorial and a way to honor their partner and the members of the FDNY who perished while facilitating the largest rescue in American History. The firm teamed up with Assistant Chief Harry Myers and the foundation was laid for the memorial.

The finished product is an immense sculpture which traces the timeline of the attacks from the impact of the planes to the completion of recovery efforts at the Site. Chief Meyers worked with the artists from Rambusch Studios to advise them during the production. Each firefighter and piece of equipment is fashioned to represent all firefighters. No one is singled out. Even a ladder company in the background is emblazoned with “343” on the rig where the company number would be. It is this strict attention to detail that makes this memorial a truly awe-inspiring piece.

The memorial serves not only to honor those who were lost on 9-11, but the Firefighters who, on a daily basis, put themselves in harms way for others. It honors the sacrifice of all New York City Firefighters. A large inscription, spanning the length of the sculpture reads “Dedicated to those who fell and those who carry on. May we never forget.”

The June 10th program included a number of speeches and presentations by various dignitaries and elected officials, including a video message from President George W. Bush. In his speech, he drove home the point that while we may continue to move ahead, it is important we take time and never forget those we have lost.

His participation in the event came after the UFA Executive Board, while in Washington D.C. to lobby for additional federal training funds, suggested to the White House that the President come to New York for the unveiling of this spectacular tribute. However, the day posed a number of scheduling and security issues that would prevent him from making an appearance. The UFA then suggested he produce a video for the event. He agreed and the result was seen at the ceremony.

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UFA President Steve Cassidy is joined by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at the 9/11 Memorial Sculpture located on the side of the “Ten House” Photo by Todd Maisel

Overall, the day was a bittersweet moment for a many of us in attendance. Many remembered those we lost and were glad to have such a stunning memorial dedicated to their lives. But one could not help but to look across the street to the vacant space where the towers once stood. It was evident that this, in fact, was our memorial. Each individual Firefighter is listed with his rank and badge number, as well as assigned unit. The UFA has been a staunch proponent for this recognition of first responders at the World Trade Center Memorial. However, the WTC Memorial Foundation has yet to address our concerns. Now they only need to glance to the corner of Greenwich and Liberty Streets to take notice of how a fitting tribute looks.

Our sincere thanks go out to all the employees and staff at Holland and Knight for their efforts in providing the Firefighters of New York City with a memorial that will last the test of time.

Reprinted from FIRE LINES, the official publication of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, June/July 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York