Firefighter statue commissioned for Missouri offered to NYC

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Firefighter statue commissioned for Missouri offered to NYC

By ULA ILNYTZKY

Associated Press WriterNEW YORK (AP) -- The firefighter is down on his knee, his face forever anguished.

He is hewn in bronze, a larger-than-life statue that had been destined to honor Missouri's fallen heroes. But he has a new calling: a shrine to the dead in the World Trade Center disaster.

New Yorkers on their way to work and tourists stopped Wednesday to gaze at the statue, perched on a flatbed truck parked in midtown Manhattan at Eighth Avenue and 44th Street. Some lighted a candle or placed flowers around the statue's base as others, visibly moved, bowed their heads.

"It touches you," said Hakeem Adesanya, of Teaneck, N.J. "It makes you reflect."

Of the more than 5,000 people reported dead or missing from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that felled the 110-story twin Trade Center towers, about 300 are firefighters.

The 6-foot by 6-foot statue was cast in Parma, Italy, by a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based Matthews Bronze, one of the world's largest producers of bronze memorials.

Commissioned by the Firefighters Memorial Foundation of Missouri, it arrived at Kennedy International Airport on Sept. 9 and was awaiting Customs clearance when the Trade Center was attacked.

The idea to instead offer New York the $300,000 statue of the grief-stricken firefighter, bent in prayer and holding his head in one hand, seemed appropriate, said Matthews Bronze President David DeCarlo.

"We decided it's got to be in New York; it's made for New York," DeCarlo said.

The statue had been designed to honor the 321 firefighters killed in the line of duty in Missouri's history.

"New York City, possibly in one day, has lost an equal number," said Dale Arnold, the foundation's secretary. "It's an honor to do something like this for the New York Fire Department and help in the healing that's going to be taking place, and memorials are part of that."

Getting the Firefighters Memorial Foundation of Missouri -- a subcommittee of the 9,000-member Firefighters Association of Missouri of 9,000 state members -- to agree took less than one hour.

"It was a matter of making a few phone calls," Arnold said. "Everyone agreed."

It's too soon to say whether the city will accept the donation or where it would reside, said Henry Stern, the commissioner of New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation.

Missouri will get a duplicate of the statue in about four months, with dedication slated for April. It will be placed in Kingdom City, centrally located in the state, on I-70 at the intersection of U.S. 54, and will be visible from the interstate. A museum also is planned for the site.

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