Flowers speckled the wooden statue— depicting firemen hoisting up an American flag on top of the remains of the World Trade Center —on Union Street outside of the FDNY’s Squad 1 stationhouse on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, September 11 — the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks which brought down the Twin Towers and claimed 2,996 lives — people came to the statue, entitled Out of the Rubble, not only to pay their respects to , but also to the total 343 firefighters who lost their lives during the tragedy.
“This squad was hit really hard. I remember the funerals on Sixth Avenue everyday following the attacks. It was sad,” Diana Robinson said, who has lived in Park Slope since 1978.
Robinson was actually right next to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 for a meeting. She was at a farmer’s market and then was going to the former Deutsche Bank Building on Liberty Street, which was adjacent to the WTC before it was demolished. While still at the market looking at vegetables, she heard a loud crash and then saw debris fall from the sky.
“I couldn’t see the towers because my vision was obscured by an awning, but I said, ‘That sounded like a plane hitting a building,’” she remembered saying, while standing in front of the wooden statue outside of Squad 1.
She said she stopped by the memorial specifically to read the names of the fallen firefighters on 9/11.
“The names are important to read,” Robinson said. “It’s still unbelievable that it happened.”
Another woman, who was visiting from Washington, D.C. to see her son who lives nearby in Brooklyn, also stopped by the memorial to pay her respects.
“My son was starting his first job that day in a building right next to the World Trade Center,” said Stephanie Deutsch. “He saw the first plane hit. It all feels very personal to me and my family.”
Luckily, her son was not killed or hurt.
She said that she lives on East Capital Street in D.C., right next to the U.S. Capital. If the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 didn’t fight the terrorists who hijacked the plane and crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA, they might have hit the intended target, and she could have died in her house, she explained.
Throughout the afternoon, people walked up to the wooden statue and took a moment to reflect. Some placed flowers. Some just looked at it. Some touched it. Others read the names.
One man brought his 4-year-old daughter up to a fireman who was standing in front of Squad 1. When the little girl was close enough to the firefighter, she said:
“Thank you,” and bashfully hid behind her father’s legs.
When asked why she thanked him, she said, “Because firemen help people.”
The girl’s father, Raul Rothblatt, said that he remembers standing on Flatbush at Seventh Avenue on that tragic day and saw the “towers burning.”
“It was a strong memory for me,” Rothblatt said.
The fireman who the little girl thanked said that he has never put the experience of 9/11 into words before.
“I’d have to say that it’s a big black eye for America,” Firefighter Tom DeAnglis said, who was still in the academy during the attacks.
The statue, Out of the Rubble, lists the following members of Squad 1 who died trying to help others at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001:
- Capt. James Amato
- Lt. Michael Esposito
- Lt. Edward D'Atri
- Lt. Michael Russo
- FF Peter Carroll
- FF David Fontana
- FF Thomas Butler
- FF Brian Bilcher
- FF Matthew Garvey
- FF Stephen Siller
- FF Gary Box
- FF Robert Cordice
Also on the statue are all the names of the 343 firefighters lost during the terror attacks.