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Brooklyn's 9/11 memorials stand out as celebrations of life and heroes

Brooklyn's 9/11 memorials hold unique histories
Brooklyn's 9/11 memorials hold unique histories 04:00

NEW YORK -- As we mark 22 years since the Sept. 11 attacks on Monday, several memorials across New York City have become significant gathering points for loved ones of those killed on that tragic day. 

But three memorials in South Brooklyn stand out, each with a unique history. 

Steps away from the crashing waves and sandy shores of Coney Island is a wall covered with the faces of heroes. The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, dedicated in 2002, was originally conceived to honor firefighters from the borough who died.

"The difference is faces. When you can go there and you can see faces," said Brooklyn-native Sol Moglen, now an FDNY honorary deputy chief and the wall's founder. 

Since then, the wall has expanded to honor the 418 men and women across numerous departments who ran toward the danger to save as many people as they could. 

Significantly, this memorial is the only one honoring a police dog, named Sirius, that died during the rescue efforts. 

"In honor of Sirius, we purchased three K-9 dogs. Our first dog now is with the NYPD Transit Unit and we have two additional dogs coming. One for the fire marshals and one for the NYPD," said Moglen. 

Flagpoles made of twisted steel from Ground Zero have been repurposed, painted red and blue, to honor fire and police departments. Golden relief sculptures show New York's bravest mourning a lost brother.

In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack, Moglen saw an immediate need to give loved ones a place to pay their respects.

"I wanted a place near the ocean where it's joyful, it's a celebration of life. Not a place where a cemetery would be sad," said Moglen. 

In Sunset Park, on a hill overlooking the neighborhood's rooftops, sits a beautiful grove of 45 trees basking in the sun as Lower Manhattan glimmers on the horizon. 

"They're places where you come for joy. They're places where you come to exercise. They're places where you come to reflect and to remember," said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher. 

The grove's layout is significant. 

"The grove itself is split into two sides representing the two towers, and that's also to keep the view corridor open," said Maher. 

There is a memorial grove in every borough, but this one was the first. They all have something in common, including trees that flower in white every spring and sweeping views of Lower Manhattan - a terrifying sight 22 years ago, but a significant one now. 

The American Veterans Memorial Pier stands at the Bay Ridge waterfront. A 25-foot-tall beacon on it stands as a tribute to the 283 Brooklyn residents killed during the attack. 

"It's made to replicate the fire chief horn where they gave directions during a fire," said Maher. 

The Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower, two other beacons, shine bright across the harbor as symbols of a scarred city that heals a little more each day. 

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