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EMMITSBURG, Md. (AP) -- A bronze-and-steel sculpture of three New York firefighters raising the U.S. flag amid the ruins of the World Trade Center stands as a towering reminder to never give up, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator R. David Paulison said Monday at a dedication ceremony for the Sept. 11 memorial.
The 40-foot work, based on a newspaper photograph from Sept. 11, 2001, was unveiled on the grounds of the National Emergency Training Center, about 80 miles north of Washington.
Dedicated to the nation's fallen firefighters, including 343 Fire Department of New York workers who died trying to rescue victims of the terrorist attack, the sculpture by Utah-based Stanley Watts is called "To Lift a Nation." It stands near the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on a picturesque campus visited annually by 17,000 emergency response workers and administrators from around the world.
Paulison said the three firefighters photographed by Thomas E. Franklin of The (Bergen, N.J.) Record attaching the banner to a metal pole "were sending a message to each of us that we are never going to give up as a nation."
"This monument is saying we will never forget and we are never, ever, ever going to give up," Paulison said.
Bill Eisengrein, one of the three men depicted in the sculpture, called it "a great tribute to everyone that perished that day" -- and to the police officers and other emergency workers who responded.
Eisengrein, a member of the FDNY Rescue 2 unit, said the two others depicted in the work are George Johnson and Dan McWilliams, who were with Ladder 157 at the time.
Watts said the firefighters agreed reluctantly to the sculpture, fearing they would become defined by the image -- like the Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima.
Eisengrein said the firefighters "just wanted to make sure it was done in a tasteful manner."
Family members of 14 fallen firefighters attended the ceremony. Maureen Santora, who lost her son in the collapsed towers, said she has a framed copy of the flag-raising picture in her home and was pleased with the sculpture.
"It's a beautiful, beautiful tribute," she said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)