Origins: This photograph of Dan McWilliams, George Johnson, and Billy Eisengrein raising a flag on a pole anchored in about
The controversial memorial would not have been historically accurate, however, as two of the three firefighters who raised the flag that day were to be restyled as Hispanic and black figures in the
The New York Fire Department initially defended the proposed statue design, saying it accurately represented the
The "accuracy" of that representation was questionable: only 2.7% of the city's
Even while still in the planning stages, the memorial was already controversial. Those who viewed it as a monument to self-sacrifice embraced the racial adjustment, because to their minds the finished statue would better impart the message of everyone's striving together. Those who held that momuments and memorials to actual events and real people should be historically accurate rather than idealized versions were outraged by the proposed alteration.
The firestorm of public opinion resulted in the statue's donor, developer Bruce Ratner, scrapping plans for this particular testimonial to heroism.
Barbara "from black-and-white to color" Mikkelson
Last updated: 7 April 2008
Gaskell, Stephanie. "Petition Protesting Firefighter Statue is Circulated." The Associated Press. 15 January 2002. Goldiner, Dave. "Statue of Bravest Sparks Race Flap." [New York] Daily News. 12 January 2002 (p. 4). Guart, Al, Philip Messing, and Andy Geller. "Monumental Change." New York Post. 18 January 2002. Murphy, Dean. "Firefighters Statue to be Erected Despite Criticism." The New York Times. 13 January 2002 (p. A16).