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Thread: Living Tributes to 9/11 In Full Bloom

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Living Tributes to 9/11 In Full Bloom

    Living Tributes to 9/11 In Full Bloom

    This month of May blossoms with vital symbols of life in a city stained by death.

    At Public School 154 in Windsor Terrace, where three of my kids learned to read and write, fifth-graders decided to deal with Sept. 11 by creating a Community Memorial Garden dedicated to the victims and heroes of the World Trade Center.

    In the rich Brooklyn earth adjoining the schoolhouse, the kids planted 700 daffodil bulbs donated by the Partnership of Parks as part of their Daffodil Project, coaxing the miracle of life from a city still embalmed in mourning.

    Daffodils are among the first flowers of spring, gorgeous and rugged perennials reborn each year, symbols of the undefeatable heartbeat of New York.

    "Shannon Florist donated hundreds of dollars of bushes, other perennial plants and a dogwood tree," said Jill Meyers, a science teacher at PS 154 who coordinated the project.

    "The children have also written very moving poems and thoughts about the tragedy and what they want the garden to convey.

    "On Friday, May 17, at 9:30 a.m. the block outside the school will be closed and the children will be sharing their words with parents, community members, local fire companies and the local police precinct.

    "A bronze plaque will be unveiled. Our school and local community lost many beloved people, and this garden is a way of helping the children heal," she said.

    Meyers says that as the children created the garden, many parents and locals would stop and help, rolling up sleeves and picking up shovels.

    Every time I pass this special little garden, I'll remember that just a block away courageous FDNY Capt. Vinny Brunton lived with his family before leaving for work for the very last time Sept. 10.

    In Brooklyn, these tragedies always seem to hit close to home, sometimes with dagger-twisting irony.

    I recall a column I wrote after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, when it was discovered that two of the perfectly innocent children of one of the terrorists arrested for that crime that killed six also learned to read and write in this Brooklyn schoolhouse.

    Ibrahim Elgabrowny lived just two blocks away, on Prospect Park Southwest, smack in the middle of this drowsy working-class neighborhood where eight years later so many would give their lives in a second Trade Center attack.

    Elgabrowny's cousin El Sayed A Nosair was arrested on the same street in 1990 and convicted on gun charges relating to the assassination of Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane.

    Reminders that madmen live among us.

    Let the sweet scent of the PS 154 garden overwhelm those foul memories.

    You also can venture across the rolling, verdant meadows of Prospect Park, to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where another memorial called "The Liberty Oaks" was dedicated Friday.

    The first of four rows of 20 red oaks was planted in place of The Armistice Maples planted in 1918 to commemorate the World War I armistice.

    "After 85 years, those Norway maples had reached the end of their life span," said Jennifer Strikowski, a spokeswoman for the garden.

    "And we'd all agreed that we had to do something to memorialize the victims and heroes of Sept. 11. So we replaced the maples with scarlet oaks and renamed the new memorial on the Cherry Esplanade 'Liberty Oaks' in honor of 9/11," she said, "but we will also have bronze plaques honoring the World War I armistice."

    Strikowski said the botanic garden closed early Sept. 11, and officials were unsure whether to reopen Sept 12.

    "But unlike most cultural institutions, our attendance increased dramatically after Sept. 11," Strikowski said. "On Sept. 12, a line of people formed outside our gates, so we reopened.

    "Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have come here seeking solace and serenity and tranquility in a time of fear and sadness and grief. They find symbols of life in this beautiful oasis.

    "We'd already sent out planters of red, white and blue pansies to the local firehouses through Brooklyn Green Bridge, our community-garden project. But we knew we needed to establish a permanent memorial," Strikowski said.

    New Memorial

    On Friday, under azure skies, honor guards from the NYPD and FDNY, local pols, former national poet laureate Stanley Kunitz and Botanic Garden officials dedicated this new memorial, which is open to the public.

    "For the next century, these trees will stand as a living tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 and our ability to rise up and move forward in the wake of tragedy," said Judith Zuk, president of the botanic garden.

    Gardens and memorials like this are blooming all over the city, assurances that just as spring follows winter, there is life after death in New York.

    Public School 154 can be reached at (718) 330-9333, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at (718) 623-7200.


    Original Publication Date: 5/14/02

    Firefighters leave ceremony at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where a memorial called 'The Liberty Oaks' was dedicated Friday to the victims and heroes of 9/11.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    PS 154 is where I went to school!

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