Ten-year-old Kevin Hickey was barely as tall as the governor's podium, but had to measure up to a duty daunting enough for any adult.
Kevin, who lost his firefighter father on Sept. 11, was trying to help New York's children have a happy holiday season despite the tragedy. He took part in a ceremony Monday to decorate the governor's office holiday tree with ornaments made by New York schoolchildren to honor victims of the terrorist attacks.
Most years, the ceremony is just a photo opportunity. But this year's tree-trimming became an emotionally wrenching event as Gov. George Pataki introduced Kevin and two other children, Peter Freund and Britany Rivera, who had also lost a parent in the attack. Therese Stark, who lost her firefighter uncle, also attended.
Thirty-one elementary school students covered the tree with ornaments made by children from 850 schools across the state to honor the victims.
One ornament that adorned the 15-foot spruce in the state Capitol is decorated with a drawing of the flaming towers behind a crying American eagle.
The words "United We Stand" are "Remember 9-11-01" were painted on two other ornaments.
"Each ornament shows creativity, love and patriotism," Pataki said. "So many of the ornaments are moving tributes to those killed in the World Trade Center attack and to the heroes - the firefighters, police and EMS workers who put their lives on the line that day."
By Michael Gormley © MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed