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    LB Firefighter's Hand-Made, Home-Grown, Personal 9-11 Memorial Draws Crowds In Emotional Tribute

    (Sept. 11, 2003) -- A LB firefighter's personally created, hand-constructed, homegrown memorial -- displayed on his front lawn -- to honor fallen 9-11-01 firefighters drew unexpectedly large crowds on the two year anniversary of the terrorist attack.

    It's expected to draw additional visitors on Friday Sept. 12, an extended display date responding to public demand.

    Sept 11/03
    Photo: Wayne Chaney, LBFD

    LB firefighter Gary Biggerstaff, a 7 1/2 year veteran of the Department, said that after visiting NYC's "ground zero," he was so overwhelmed that he resolved to create a personal memorial honoring his brother that would put their names on the cold statistics.

    Sept 11/03
    Photo: Wayne Chaney, LBFD
    Firefighter Biggerstaff assembled 343 crosses, carefully inscribed each one with the name of a fallen firefighter...and meticulously displayed them alongside American flags on his front lawn.

    The response was overwhelming and emotional...and drew L.A. news media.

    "I just built this thing as a quiet little memorial," Mr. Biggerstaff told "I wanted to make sure firefighters who died that day weren't forgotten, especially the impact on their families, the kids without fathers," he added.

    The crowds started early on Sept. 11 after a local beach insert mentioned Mr. Biggerstaff's memorial...and really picked up after KTLA Channel 5's Morning News did a live report.

    "Within 15 minutes, the street was full of people," Mr. Biggerstaff said...and a steady stream of people and reporters attended throughout the day in the 200 block of Bennett Ave. in Belmont Heights. Channels 2, 4, 7 and 9 showed up (and possibly others, Biggerstaff says things were very hectic).

    Sept 11/03
    Photo: Wayne Chaney, LBFD

    Sept 11/03
    Photo: Wayne Chaney, LBFD
    An emotional ceremony was held in the early evening. Each fallen firefighter's name read aloud. Firefighters also shared their own thoughts in brief speeches. A crowd of roughly 350 people filled the street.

    Rev. Joe Chaney, Jr. (in uniform, photo right) conducted the invocation.

    Sept 11/03
    Photo: Wayne Chaney, LBFD

    Firefighter Biggerstaff said the memorial was his personal handiwork. "It took about 2 1/2 months for me to put together," he told "It's recycled wood, some from my kitchen, some from bits and pieces lying around," he said.

    Sept 11/03
    Photo: Wayne Chaney, LBFD
    Volunteers from the LB Fire Dept. museum attended on a historic LB fire truck.

    In a live report from Belmont Heights on its 11 p.m. news, ABC7 reported that Firefighter Biggerstaff's personal tribute is now expected to become an annual event.

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