Push for 2nd 9/11 memorial


A disturbing photo of a firefighter walking to his death on Sept. 11, 2001, is being used in a public relations blitz by a group that wants special honors at the Ground Zero memorial for uniformed workers.

Posters of the photo are going up around the city today, a day before officials launch the international competition for the permanent tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the World Trade Center attacks.

"New York's heroes must always be remembered on the site of their greatest sacrifice," the posters say, beneath a picture of Fire Lt. Raymond Murphy, his back to the camera, walking toward the north tower after the south tower had collapsed.

"Only Gov. Pataki can stop this terrible, shortsighted ingratitude," the posters say.

John Finucane, a retired firefighter leading the charge for separate distinction for uniformed rescuers, acknowledged that Murphy's picture may be upsetting to some.

But he insisted that rebuilding officials "have forced us to do this."

His group, Advocates for a 9-11 Fallen Heroes Memorial, has been pushing for a separate listing of cops and firefighters on any memorial wall at the site, even after officials at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. have nixed the idea, saying they don't want a "hierarchy" of death.

Value of lives

Relatives of civilians who were killed that day - most of the 9/11 victims - have denounced the separate memorial, saying it cheapens the larger meaning of what happened in the attacks, and suggests that some lost lives are worth more than others.

Kathy Ashton, who lost her son at the Trade Center, said there were many stories of heroism that day among people who weren't wearing uniforms. She said the civilian families have nothing but praise for the police and firefighters.

"I think it's just, it's almost disgraceful, but it's also very sad that this group has decided to create such a divisive issue where there is no quarrel," she said.

Originally published on April 27, 2003