Each acrylic panel is held in place by a post in each panel’s corner. The post caps need to re-screwed into place before moving on so they are never lost. On the right they are removing Panel One which has a blank 6″ border on the left side.
Last October I filled up about 23′ of a semi-trailer and moved back to Colorado. The two 600# better angels crates needed to go on last so they could come off first. I had access to a forklift and loading dock back in MA, but needed a storage space with access to a forklift once I got to CO. Luck was with me.
John Voci from NEPR sat down at my dining table with me a couple months ago and we spoke about Better Angels for about 45 minutes. He put together this really lovely piece about the Springfield Museums exhibit that scrolls through all the paintings as I speak.
The exhibit has been open for barely three weeks now. It looks wonderful on its custom-built wall. A week ago I gave a 45-minute talk, which was a first. I spent days putting it together. Keeping it to 45 minutes was the hard part. I had the chance to meet Springfield’s Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant. He and a team from Springfield had gone down to Ground Zero a few days after to see how they could help.
Springfield MA Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant
This week I spoke with the docents. They made me think of many things I had never considered – such as how to speak with children about the paintings. What to say at what age? How to engage them?
Yesterday also gave me my first and only opportunity to have the paintings photographed without their protective acrylic covers – so no reflections.
Thankfully we had a clear blue sky delivery day to bring BETTER ANGELS to the Springfield Museum in Springfield MA. Still two weeks until the opening. I rented a larger truck than I have every driven to have loading dock height at Eastworks where I live and work, and a (barely) deep enough lift gate to off-load it at the museum.
I am always a worried Mama when the paintings are being moved. That’s Guy McLain on the right, Director of the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History. I owe him a big thank you for bringing these firefighters out of their crates.
See. Much bigger truck than I needed.
We install a week from today and the exhibit opens on January 12th, 2016. More pics soon.
As a small child, Fathey Mychal Judge sometimes gave his only quarter to a beggar on the street. Having lost his own father when he was six, Judge shined shoes at Penn Station to help his family survive. He would visit St. Francis of Assisi Church just across the street. Seeing the friars there made him realize he “didn’t care for material things… (he) knew then that (he) wanted to be a friar.” Judge began the path towards ordination when he was just 14. In 1986, he was assigned to St. Francis and would stay with them until his death. In 1992 he was made a chaplain of the FDNY.
He counseled firefighters, police, the families of TWA Flight 800 crash victims, AIDS patients, alcoholics and more. Many considered Judge to be a living saint. While praying, he would sometimes “become so lost in God, as if lost in a trance, that he’d be shocked to find several hours had passed.” Judge’s former spiritual director observed that, “He achieved an extraordinary degree of union with the divine. We knew we were dealing with someone directly in line with God.”
When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59, debris came flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many inside, including Judge, who was struck in the head. Judge had been praying non-stop since he arrived that morning, and performed last rites on those for whom he could.
Shortly after his death, an NYPD lieutenant found Judge’s body. Assisted by two firemen, an FDNY EMT and a civilian, they carried Judge’s body out of the North Tower on a chair. A famous photograph of this is “considered an American Pietà.” His body was first laid on the altar of St. Peter’s Church before being taken to E1/L24 on West 31st where he ate all his meals. His was the first officially registered death of the day, Number 0001.
After his death, Congress revised the rules so that a fire chaplain killed in the line of duty can receive the same Federal death benefits as firefighters. He was nominated for a Congressional Medal of Honor. His helmet was presented as a gift to the Pope. France awarded him the Legion d’Honneur. Nearly 3000 people attended his funeral. He was 68 years old.
Deputy Commissioner William Feehan, 71, was rumored to know the location of every single fire hydrant in New York City. When named Chief of Department in 1992, he was the first to have held every possible rank within the department. He was the oldest and highest ranking firefighter ever to die in the line of duty, with 42 years on the job.
A firefighter tells the story “about a synagogue fire in midtown a couple of years ago. There was a collapse inside the synagogue and a huge plume of smoke came up, and there was a thunderous roar, and everyone was getting out of the way, and here was Bill, running into the smoke and fire — and he was 70 years old!
A military history buff who had served in the army in Korea, Feehan would walk civil war battlefields on vacation. A widower, Feehan had four grown kids and six grandchildren. One of his sons followed him into the FDNY.
To LEAVE A MEMORY or COMMENT about any of these men, go to their painting in THE 343 section. Double click on the painting and it will enlarge. Scroll down and leave a message. These comments will stay with the paintings as long as this website exists.
One FIREFIGHTER painting and a short STORY about him are posted every day, in order by company: facebook.com/betterangels911/