As the families of those who gave their lives to save others on 9/11 walked up one by one to touch the bronze plaque honoring their loved ones, my eyes misted over. But Sol Moglen, founder of the Brooklyn Wall, gently reminded me, “This is not a memorial service__it’s a celebration of these heroes’ lives.”
He was right. Last week’s fifth annual Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance Night honoring the borough’s fallen heroes of September 11th was indeed a celebration. The wall is beside the Brooklyn Cyclones’ MCU Park in Coney Island, and after the ceremony the families and others went in to enjoy the baseball game.
I was privileged to be one of the people asked to help carry the flag into the stadium. After the presentation of the colors, the game began, and the Cyclones did their part by winning.
The night was dedicated to Shelly Goldfeder, who established a foundation that, among other things, assists scholarship programs for children of first responders killed in the line of duty.
Last week’s celebration was also known as Siller Foundation Heroes Night. The family of Stephen Siller honors his memory with an annual Tunnel to Towers Run, which has already raised millions of dollars for children of fallen firefighters and other deserving recipients.
Siller’s story is incredible. On 9/11, the firefighter was driving home through Brooklyn when he got word of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. He made a U-turn and sped toward the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel__which was already closed.
Siller could have turned around and headed home. Instead he strapped on 70 pounds of firefighting gear and ran the 1.7 miles through the tunnel, where he was picked up by another crew of firefighters responding to the call. He died when the towers collapsed.
The wall honors Siller and 416 other Brooklynites who gave their lives that day. Steps from the inspirational Jackie Robinson-Pee Wee Reese statue__recently restored from vandalism__the wall is well worth visiting, and free of charge.
“This is about giving families a place to take comfort,” said Moglen, “and to know their loved ones will not be forgotten.”