This is from my continued coverage of Fire Rescue International last week. You can read more posts related to FRI 2011 here.
better angels: the firefighters of 9/11
better angels: the firefighters of 9/11 is 343 individual oil
paintings of the firefighters who died on 9/11, created to honor
the lives they lived and the people they loved. from betterangels911.com
Take a minute to look at the site here. You will not believe the detail in the paintings, the respect given to honor the 343, or the realization of how long it took to complete this tribute. Be sure to watch the video at the bottom of this post for more insight on the memorial.
I met Dawn Siebel at Firehouse Expo. Dawn was quiet, almost seeming pensive being around so many firefighters. I doubt that was the case. I also doubt she needed any validation that her work was indeed a moving tribute to the 343 firefighters who died on 9/11. I don’t think she needed anything at all really…except for everyone else to take a minute to view what she had created. One thing was certain, it was not about her and she did not want it to be. It was about our brothers. The ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice. That was my first impression. I got to speak with her for several minutes while I took in the magnificent tribute that is “better angels: the firefighters of 9/11″. I told Dawn I would be back to purchase a poster…I never made it back and it bothered me.
The second time I met Dawn was at Fire Rescue International. I took the time to get over to the better angels exhibit and take another glance. When I walked up, Dawn grabbed the photos hanging around my neck and looked at them. She knew exactly who they were without looking at their names. The men whose photos were around my neck were the better angels I climbed for in Baltimore and Atlanta: Joseph Agnello, Raymond York, Durrell Pearsall, and Martin McWilliams. Dawn immediately pointed out something I didn’t realize…I had climbed for the last firefighter on the list alphabetically (Raymond York) in Baltimore and I had climbed for the first person on the list alphabetically (Joseph Agnello) in Atlanta. This was by pure chance. In Baltimore, I was assigned Martin McWilliams. It wasn’t until the 3rd lap up that I came across Raymond York’s photo. Someone had dropped it…I would finish the climb with his photo as well. This time in Atlanta I was the first person to check in and they gave me the first person on the list (Joseph Agnello). I probably would not have realized it if Dawn had not picked it out.
I didn’t have cash on me at the time, but I told her I was going to get cash before the event was over and purchase my poster. I would get that chance.
Dave Statter asked me if I would have time at the end of the conference to help load up the better angels exhibit. I said yes. When the time came, I met up with Dawn. She gave me a poster. I didn’t know what to say. She said it was for helping out. I asked her to sign it. I was very appreciative of the gesture.
Over the two times I met Dawn I asked her several questions. Since I don’t want to misquote her or give wrong information I will tell you that if you see her be sure to ask her about the process in making the tribute. Ask her what it means to her, and ask her why she did it. She has a great story. Lets just say this tribute was not made overnight. You can read more about Dawn and the better angels travels on the blog here.
So there I was with about 12 others and we were taking down the better angels exhibit. Let’s just say that I did not mind doing it at all. I was very worried that something would happen to it though. I did not want to be the one to scratch, bump, or dent any part of it. For the most part the entire process was done in relative silence with the exception of giving or taking directions.
We got it packed up in about 2 hours.
I look forward to meeting up with Dawn again and taking another look at the better angels: the firefighters of 9/11.