The largest municipal police union in the world is paying tribute to the police officers who sacrificed their lives during 9/11 through a series of videos.
The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York’s goal is to work to ensure their stories are accessible across the nation so Americans can remember their ultimate sacrifice each and every day.
It starts out with a two-minute video, “23 Remembered,” which is based on a 9/11 memorial wall — situated within the association’s Manhattan headquarters – that honors the NYPD members who lost their lives on that harrowing day 20 years ago. It also pays a tribute to the hundreds of police officers who died as a result of 9/11-related illnesses stemming from the search-and-recovery operations at Ground Zero.
The wall is canvased with hand-painted portraits of the 22 brave men and one courageous woman who lost their lives and it’s all thanks to Philadelphia Police Officer Jonny Castro. Castro made it his mission to paint moving portraits of fallen police officers and military members killed in action.
The wall was commissioned by Brothers Before Others, a nonprofit organization that supports families of fallen police officers.
“I looked at the wall here in our offices here and I said, ‘That wall shouldn’t be blank any longer’,” NYC PBA President Patrick Lynch said during the emotional clip, which showcases the moment relatives of those lost heroes laid eyes on the portraits.
Lynch said they had one very important job to do which was to make sure the stories of these heroes never dies.
“It’s our job to keep telling those stories,” he said. “Let’s say it today so the next generation knows it’s their job to say it tomorrow, it’s their job to say it when we’re not here.”
But a wall just wasn’t enough.
The organization felt as though a “memorial to our fallen police officers, as well as their stories, should be accessible from all parts of the country,” said Caron Shapiro, staff writer and media liaison for the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York.
But their efforts are far from over.
Over the next few months, the NYC PBA plans to create a separate video story for each of the 23 fallen officers. There will also be video portraits of the officers who died from illnesses resulting from their work on the rescue mission at Ground Zero.
“People will be able to read individual stories, experience what happened on that day and take away inspiration for their own life, as they face personal challenges,” Shapiro said.