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Shrine Flourishes in the Other New York

January 06, 2002

LAS VEGAS--The T-shirts flutter in the breeze beneath the neon and the fake New York skyline, their messages in black marker beside dozens of fire department insignias.

"Your sacrifice, your courage, brought our nation together," read an inscription from a retired Chicago firefighter. Another shirt proclaimed, "Canadian firefighters will never forget 9-11."

The fence in front of the New York-New York Hotel & Casino became an impromptu shrine of flowers, flags and handwritten notes in the weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Now, as the wilting flowers and rain-soaked paper messages are cleared away, this busy corner of the Strip is becoming a larger, more lasting memorial.

More than 60 T-shirts from fire departments across North America were hanging on the fence last month. Firefighters on personal trips are leaving some of the shirts; others are being mailed from across the country.

Hotel staffers were surprised several weeks ago when T-shirts began to arrive by mail, addressed simply to the New York-New York hotel. The display was removed for New Year's Eve and was to be remounted last week.

"We really didn't quite know how to react when people started to do it, but it was obviously a spontaneous public reaction, and it was very positive," said Micah Richins, vice president of hotel operations.

--Associated Press

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