While many fire departments around the U.S. plan to mark the second anniversary of the September 11th attacks, there is at least one fire department going above and beyond to mark the day with a unique and heartfelt tribute.
The Garland, Texas Fire Department is laying out 343 crosses that they made, one for every firefighter killed on Sept 11, 2001, on an acre of land next to Station #7.
The memorial, "A Cross for a Brother," will be up from 5 p.m. September 10 to 5 p.m. September 17.
The idea and the work came from the firefighters of the A-shift at Station #7, led by Aron Saffell, said Garland Fire Department PIO Capt. Jeff Tokar.
Tokar said the firefighters built and painted the wooden crosses with materials donated by the Home Depot as well as from their own pockets. He said they first erected the memorial last year, but for this anniversary, each cross will now have a name plate mounted to it with the name and company of a FDNY firefighter killed on 9/11. There is also one large cross with all 343 names on it.
In addition to the effort of making the crosses, the firefighters put forth great care in laying them out, which they do over several days. Tokar said they start with a grid made of string so that they can space the crosses perfectly, in a tribute reminicent of Arlington National Cemetery.
"They put a lot of heart into it," Tokar said. He said passersby and visitors can come to view the memorial any time during the week it is available. The fire department is not holding a ceremony on the 11th, but will participate in the city's remembrance ceremony at noon at the square in downtown Garland.
Tokar said it is fitting that the Garland firefighters are putting so much effort and heart into remembering 9/11. "It's just something we never need to forget," he said. "This is a different kind of war, not just on foreign shores, and it affects everybody, especially first responders."
Tokar said that in addition to remembering the sacrifice of those who died on 9/11, the memorial serves as a reminder to firefighters that they need to be on guard for future attacks, and that like the FDNY firefighters who died on 9/11, they must continue to serve no matter what the conditions.
Garland Fire Station #7 is located at 2545 Naaman School Rd. in Garland Texas 75040.