A few years after 9/11, while visiting NYC, one of my sons and I came upon this statue when walking down 8th Avenue, and found it an incredibly moving sight. We guessed it had been created as a memorial to the 9/11 firefighters, especially as a widely-circulated photo from Ground Zero had showed a firefighter in a similar pose.
But in fact, this statue was commissioned in October 2000, for the Firefighter Memorial Foundation of Missouri. On Sept. 9 2001 it had arrived in Kennedy Airport in New York, en route from Italy. Two days later, on September 11, the tragedy occurred and many firefighters gave up their lives.
Immediately, the Missouri firefighters and the manufacturer of the statue, Matthews Bronze, donated their statue to New York. For months, it was parked on a flatbed truck outside the Milford Plaza Hotel (visible in the background above.) At the time my son and I saw it, a granite slab had been funded by the hotel owners, and the statue commemorated the 343 firefighters who died on Sept. 11 2001.
In September 2011, the "Kneeling Fireman" statue was moved to a permanent home at 6 East 43rd Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenue, outside the headquarters of Emigrant Savings Bank. (Read more.)
New York City has a National September 11 Memorial and a 9/11 Memorial Museum that will open along with other memorials at Ground Zero. But there is something uniquely moving about encountering this single statue, kneeling in a street, and inscribed with "A Firefighter's Prayer."