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HISTORIC WTC FLAG SCENE CAPTURED IN WAX

Historic moment captured in wax

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

A wax statue of Thomas E. Franklin's famous photograph goes on display in New York today.

A reunion of heroes: Firemen in powerful new image

It’s the image that has come to symbolize the enduring spirit of a nation.

Spread across the world, it’s been featured on a postage stamp and cast in bronze. And now, the photo of three dust-covered firefighters raising an American flag over the charred remains of the World Trade Center has nearly come to life.

Opening today at Madame Tussaud’s in New York is “Hope: Humanity, and Heroism,” a lifelike depiction of New York City Firefighters George Johnson, Dan McWilliams, and Billy Eisengrein standing on a platform of reproduced rubble. The exhibit is based on the photograph by Thomas E. Franklin of The Record.

The piece - produced by a team of nearly 75 workers over the past several months - was unveiled Tuesday at the museum before a small crowd that included the firefighters, their families and friends, and Gov. George Pataki, who cited the place held in American history by the small, spontaneous gesture.

“Out of that uncertainty, there arose a symbol of hope,” Pataki said, “a symbol of the confidence that we as New Yorkers and as Americans have always shown when confronted with evil.”

Franklin captured the image in 1/640th of a second on the afternoon of Sept. 11 as the firefighters hoisted a flag that they had taken from a yacht moored nearby. The trio, who were unaware they were being photographed, have since avoided publicity, so as not to appear that they were capitalizing on the event. They did not address reporters Tuesday.

In a written statement, however, Johnson applauded the exhibit for its striking similarity to the actual image, and said he believes the photograph and exhibit continue to send the message of hope.

“It’s amazing. It looks so much like us, that’s scary in a way,” he said. “I think a display like this is good to show Americans and show the whole world that anybody can be blindsided by a cowardly sneak attack, but you know that you are never going to knock us down.”

Museum officials said they wanted to document the tragedy without depicting its horror, and had discussed creating the sculpture with the firefighters many months ago. The men agreed and were invited to the museum’s workshops in London, where they underwent about 250 needed measurements and photographs.

Caroline Elliott, the museum’s creative director, said input from the trio also helped workers bring out the details of the moment, such as “how many water bottles they were carrying in their pockets,” and the fact that they were Poland Spring bottles.

Kerry Albee, a friend of McWilliams, said all those details - from their dusted faces and arms to the glint in their eyes - made for an all-too-real representation of Franklin’s shot.

“It’s incredible,” she said quietly, her eyes fixed on the piece. “It really, really brings it to life.”

The special exhibit will be available to the public at no charge through Oct. 4. During that time and through the end of the year, $1 from every full-priced ticket will be donated by the museum to The Bravest Fund. The organization was begun by Johnson, McWilliams, and Eisengrein to benefit firefighters and police officers who suffer career-ending injuries or death but aren’t covered by existing benefit programs.
 

HISTORIC WTC FLAG SCENE CAPTURED IN WAX






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