Sunday, March 6, 2011

9/11 Memorial: Mariposa meets Manhattan in remembrance

MARIPOSA -- A group of four New York City firefighters visited Yosemite National Park shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, and ended up forging a lasting bond with some Mariposa County firefighters.

The New Yorkers somehow got lost, wound up in Mariposa instead of the park and were found by Mariposa's deputy fire chief, Art Laursen. He escorted the men to the Mariposa headquarters and introduced them to Deputy Chief Dan Michael and Fire Chief Blaine Shultz.

Comrades from opposite sides of a nation in grief became instant friends.

Long story short, the FDNY firefighters were given complimentary hotel rooms at the park, accommodating an extended visit, and the Mariposa firefighters were treated to VIP seats in Madison Square Garden the next year at the first anniversary ceremony of 9/11.

Naturally, when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently announced its decision to allow pieces of the World Trade Center's twin towers to be given to communities, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and nonprofit groups as artifacts of 9/11, Jim Wilson, now the fire chief of Mariposa County, immediately sent his request.

On Feb. 17, four 116-pound boxes arrived at Wilson's office.

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