LB Marks Third Sept 11 Anniversary As LB Firefighter Gary Biggerstaff Again Creates Homegrown Memorial & Heartfelt Ceremony On His Front Lawn
(Sept. 11, 2004) -- On the third anniversary of the Sept. 11/01 terrorist attacks, LB firefighter Gary Biggerstaff has continued a tradition he created: building a homegrown memorial and conducting a moving, heartfelt ceremony on the front lawn of his home.
Over 100 people assembled on Bennett Ave. in the Belmont Heights area to view firefighter Biggerstaff's homemade rows of crosses. Each cross bears the name of a firefighter who perished at NYC's World Trade Center...and Biggerstaff (blue shirt, photo below) says they represent all who died that day.
Firefighter Biggerstaff told LBReport.com that he does this "to make sure that people don't forget. For me to say, "I'll never forget" is not just a statement; you need to put some action into that. This is my way of putting action to it." He said it takes about three months to make the crosses and about five hours to lay them out. They stand in perfect files, each accompanied by an American flag.
Firefighter Biggerstaff noted that while he did this in tribute to his fellow firefighters, "this is about everyone. No civilian's life is any less important than every one of these firefighters who are out here....This is really about all [those who lost their lives] but I can't fit 3,000 crosses on my front lawn."
Firefighter Biggerstaff organized an entire program, which included readings, music and moving tributes to fallen firefighters.
This whole thing got started with me [after] a big group of us back to New York in the months following Sept. 11 and we toured Ground Zero and went to several fire stations...That experience of going back there for me was very powerful and something that I will never forget...especially the personal notes from kids to their missing fathers, and for that reason, I was moved to the point that I needed to do something to make sure that the people around me, my family and neighbors and friends didn't forget, like I'm not going to forget...
Among those attending (photo below) were Alan Tolkoff, chair of the LB Firefighter Honoraries, alongside wife Jenny...and Bill Lovelace, former chair of the LB Firefighter Honoraries. Also spotted (not pictured) was Press-Telegram columnist Tom Hennessy.
The assembled crowd fell silent as a bagpipe player approached from a distance. A LBFD Captain read the Fireman's Prayer; another read the poem Mr Brother Has Fallen. America the Beautiful, American Tears and Amazing Grace were performed.
A Five Bell salute was sounded, a tradition in laying fallen firefighters to rest.
And firefighter Biggerstaff walked among the crosses, speaking about numerous NYC firefighters he never knew personally...but whose lives he came to know and described in moving terms.
A 25 year old rookie, who'd only been on the job for nine weeks, on only the second significant fire call of his career; it took four months to unearth his body from the rubble. A father (age 63) and son (age 38) who died on the same day in the same place. A firefighter two months short of his wedding day. A 38 year old firefighter whose six year old son idolized him and wanted to be a firefighter...but not anymore because, he says, heroes have to die.
Firefighter Biggerstaff then introduced Janet Satterfield, the mother of Christopher Larrabee, 26, who worked at the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage house on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center...and perished.
Ms. Satterfield told the crowd, "Just never forget these brave firefighters who gave their lives to save 2,500 people in those buildings, and my son was one of them...My son's name was Christopher Larrabee...Just never forget. Never forget."
Firefighter Biggerstaff concluded by saying:
"Because I'm a fireman, I've done all this for the firemen, but...[t]here were 3,000 Americans who lost their lives that day, but also at the Pentagon and a lonely field out in Pennsylvania where some very brave Americans did their best to stop what couldn't be stopped...and I want to recognize all those who made that sacrifice that day, not just the firefighters."
Photo credit: Dan Halverson
Firefighter Biggerstaff added, "[T]his whole thing is something that touches me very deeply, and this will be happening here at my house every year..."
The crowd responded with, "Thank you, Gary"...and lengthy applause.
Return To Front Page
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com