Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Remembering 9/11 heroes. One artist spent hours drawing each firefighter who died in the terrorist attack. Now her work is in Baltimore.
Gigi Barnett has more.
Dawn Siebel says her goal is a permanent home for the memorial, preferably at the National Portrait Gallery.
There are 343 portraits, all firefighters killed in the line of duty on Sept. 11.
“This father and son were the only ones I knew when I started,” said Dawn Siebel.
Siebel painted every one. It was a 10-year project that started on the day they died.
“Around 3 o’clock that afternoon, someone came on TV and said, ’300 firefighters died today,’ and that burst my dam,” Siebel said. “For me, that one sentence sort of held up the day. It held all the horrors and heroism of the day.”
The memorial is called Better Angels and is on display at the Convention Center this weekend. Each portrait is painted on a block of burned wood.
“You know what surprised me about this thing? Looking at it, both of us are past chiefs as volunteers. Look at all of the white hats that responded. White hats mean chiefs,” said volunteer firefighter John Schadt.
For Siebel, the wall is 3,000 hours of work. It was a way to give back. Almost every face is now etched in her mind.
“A young man came up and over to the table there and he put his finger down and said, `That’s my father,’ and I said, `Ronnie?’ and he said, `You knew him?’ and I said, `No, I painted him,’” Siebel said.
She finished the project just in time for the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.