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West 77th Street neighbors turn fire hall into memorial

NEW YORK (BP)–It was 11:30 p.m. and people kept coming. Not many. Not like the crowds in Central Park or Union Square. But they kept coming.

To the residents who live in the brownstones and the shopkeepers who make their living along West 77th Street, the men and women of Ladder Company 25 and the NYFD Third Division were like family.

And on Sept. 15, their extended family came out to pay their respects to the seven firefighters missing from Ladder Company 25 and the two firemen missing from the Third Division, including the fire chief — almost 25 percent of their force.

“This street has always felt like a small neighborhood instead of a big city,” said one resident of this upper west side enclave.

In the days following the Sept. 11 attack at the World Trade Center, hundreds of flowers, cards and candles have been placed in front of the fire hall. The portraits of the men believed to have been lost in the collapse of the WTC lean against the brick exterior of the building as a tribute.

“To our very own heroes, come home soon … please,” reads one card.

And Ladder Co. 25 isn’t alone. Across the city, New Yorkers have created floral shrines to memorialize the 200-plus firefighters who are missing and presumed dead.

One fire truck was adorned with a card from children in war-torn Kosovo.

“I’m just here to show my support to the firefighters in our neighborhood,” said resident Greg Bond. “You see them all the time but until something like this happens, you don’t realize that they really do put their lives on the line every day.

“This is great,” said Bond while looking at the memorial. “New Yorkers are of one mind. That’s one good thing that has already happened.”

Neighbors have also donated food to the local fire hall. “The back of our building is filled with food,” said fireman Joe Sesack. “I don’t know what to say about the tremendous support we have received from the community.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MEMORIAL SHRINE.

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  • Todd Starnes