On Friday, as I exercised in the park, I noticed a steady stream of fire fighters in formal uniform attire. I continued on my normal park route and saw a large group of them relaxing and talking. That’s when I remembered that the Firemen’s Memorial was close by. It dawned on me that they’d probably gathered, earlier, at the monument for a 9/11-memorial ceremony.
I pass by the stately 1912 memorial, built in memory of firefighters who died in the line of duty, all the time and I always slow down to admire it. The memorial is made up of a striking staircase that leads up to a granite plaza, terrace, and benches that overlook Riverside drive. It’s decorated with a lion-shaped fountain basin, a bronze tablet dedicated to the horses that pulled the fire department’s engines, and a huge sarcophagus (A stone container made to carry a coffin or body. It is normally decorated with sculptures or inscriptions and displayed as a monument). A bronze bas-relief tablet adorns this sarcophagus with an illustration of three horses pulling a fire engine. On either side of the sarcophagus are two mesmerizing marble sculptures called Duty and Sacrifice – the motto of firefighters.
On my way back, the place was completely empty. So, I climbed up the monument steps. The remnants of the recently-ended memorial service drew my attention – four bouquets of flowers (white roses, red roses and sunflowers) and three wreaths. One of the wreaths was designed into the shape of a firefighter’s badge with the numbers 343. That is the number of firefighters who died on 9/11.