An Evans man's efforts to memorialize his boyhood heroes has led him on a journey to also honor the fallen heroes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Paul Hickey has created a documentary film honoring the heroes of his youth - the Brooklyn Dodgers - and the heroes of his adulthood - the firefighters, police officers and paramedics who died six years ago trying to save those in the World Trade Center.
Remembering Heroes, which Hickey and his wife, Ellen, produced, started as a collection of original songs Mr. Hickey wrote in honor of the 1955 World Series champions.
Through chance, Hickey, a former New Yorker, was reunited a few years ago with high school and college pal Peter Hayden, the former chief of department for the Fire Department of New York. Hayden introduced Hickey to Sol Moglen, the founder of the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, a memorial to first responders killed Sept. 11.
The Wall of Remembrance is attached to Keyspan Park, the home of the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones.
The 30-foot-by 12-foot wall features a bronze relief sculpture of two firefighters carrying the helmet of a fallen comrade.
Hickey and Moglen were Brooklyn Dodgers fans and became fast friends. Soon, Hickey started selling hats for the effort to raise funds to complete the memorial wall.
A few months later during a restless night, Hickey began writing what became a six-page poem dedicated to the fallen heroes.
'"I've got to try to have somebody do something with this,'" he remembers thinking.
Hickey, who had already produced a CD of songs he wrote about the Brooklyn Dodgers, decided to turn the poems into a song and a film. Months went by with little success until he became acquainted with the local Jeremy Graham Band, which turned the lengthy verse into a song.
In August, Hickey released his film, which features songs and vignettes about the Dodgers, plus a segment featuring the faces of Brooklyn first responders who died in the terrorist attacks paired with his song The Wall.
One hundred fifty-five laser-etched portraits of first responders on black granite now surround the sculpture, according to the Web site for the remembrance wall.
"Unfortunately, that's only one-third of them," Hickey said of the 415 who died that day. Hickey said he plans to memorialize the remaining first responders but hasn't decided how.
People in Augusta have asked him why he became involved in the effort to memorialize more than 400 fallen New York City first responders, Hickey said.
"The fact is, the attacks on our country were attacks on our country, not just New York City," he said. The deaths of nearly 3,000 in New York, Washington and a Pennsylvania field were tragic, he said, but the sacrifices of emergency workers has a special significance to him.
"I certainly don't say this to belittle the sacrifices of other (victims), but these (first responders) were running in as everybody else was running out," he said. "That's an important distinction we lose sometimes."
Six years after the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history, there is still no official national memorial.
"The families go there to the wall because (for many) there were never any remains. There was nothing left," he said. "They find this to be a real comfort."
For more information about the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, visit www.brooklynwall.org. To purchase Remembering Heroes for $20, visit www.brooklyndreamof55.com or call (877) 322-3871.
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