GRAPEVINE — Twelve years after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., the city unveiled a tribute to the 343 New York firefighters who died that day.A bronze statue, called The 343 Never Forget Memorial, was unveiled last week at the current site of the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial, which was donated to the city in 2008 to honor the flight crews who died in the 2001 tragedy.The new memorial features a bronze firefighter kneeling with his head bowed in reverence and a granite monolith with the names of the 343 fallen firefighters.Grapevine resident Joe Luccioni said the addition of the new monument is the culmination of three years of planning and fundraising. For Luccioni, it was a labor of love.Luccioni’s daughter, Stephanie Burns, was engaged to be married in November 2001 to firefighter Michael Francis Lynch. On 9/11, Lynch was in the midst of a rotation with Engine 40 and Ladder 35, in Manhattan. Thirteen men from those units entered the World Trade Center, and a dozen of them, including Lynch, died there.“There is a video of him going in,” Luccioni said. “That’s the last we saw of him.”Luccioni said he and others “knocked on a lot of doors” to raise the $35,000 for the monument, which was sculpted by Dean Thompson.His efforts were rewarded last week during a somber ceremony marking the 9/11 attack that was followed by the dedication of the 343 Never Forget Memorial, located at 1000 Texan Trail.At 7:46 a.m., the moment the first airplane hit the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001, representatives from the Grapevine Fire Department and the 9/11 Memorial Foundation of Texas tolled a bell at the site of the memorial.After the bell tolled, the flags at the memorial were lowered to half-staff where they remained until 7 p.m. Luccioni said he was humbled by the approximately 300 people, including pilots and flight attendants, firefighters and police officers, who attended the ceremony.“It was awesome,” the retired banker said. “It was a great day.”Luccioni said he also plans to honor the 71 police officers who died on September 11 with a monument.“We need $43,000, but I’m sure we can do it,” Luccioni said. The catalyst for the original memorial at the site was American flight attendant Valerie Thompson, who formed a foundation dedicated to the memory of the professionals who crewed American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 93 and 175. She was joined by members of the aviation community and others. On July 4, 2008, the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial was dedicated in Grapevine with almost a thousand in attendance. The 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial Foundation donated the memorial as a gift to the city, which incorporated the memorial into its parks system.The bronze memorial has five figures: two pilots, two flight attendants and a child representing the traveling public. The figures are 14 feet high and with the base stand 18 feet. It faces west on a compass rose. Engraved pavers encircle the site. The figures stand on a block of white Texas limestone. The names of the crew members of the 9/11 flights are engraved on slabs of granite surrounding the base.
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367