Last week's column focused upon diversity-multiculturalism madness on college campuses. Now there's the diversity flap in New York City. Several columnists, most notably David Limbaugh and Kathleen Parker, commented on some of its lunacy. Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, photographer Tom Franklin of The Record newspaper in Bergen County, N.J., captured the images of New York City firefighters Dan McWilliams, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein planting the American flag in the rubble of what was once the World Trade Center. The scene, captured by Franklin's camera, was to be reproduced as a 19-foot statue to be erected at the Fire Department's Brooklyn headquarters to memorialize the 343 fire fighters who died in the attack. You say, "Williams, what's wrong with that?" It turns out that Dan McWilliams, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein are white guys. "So what, Williams?" you shout. "Facts are facts, history is history, and a photograph is a photograph." That's where you're wrong. Sometimes facts, history and photographs are not politically correct and must be changed. The New York Fire Department, the studio making the statue and the company that owns the department's headquarters decided to alter the statue, making it politically correct. The statue would portray one white, one black and one Hispanic fireman raising the flag. That, race experts say, better reflects the ethnicity of New York's 11,500 person fire department, of which 2.7 percent are black, 3.2 percent Hispanic and the other 90-some percent white. Fire Department spokesman Frank Gribbon explains, "Given that those who died were of all races and all ethnicities, and that the statue was to be symbolic of those sacrifices, ultimately a decision was made to honor no one in particular, but everyone who made the supreme sacrifice." Kevin James, a black firefighter, said: "The symbolism is far more important than representing the actual people. I think the artistic expression of diversity would supersede any concern over factual correctness." Suppose it were three black firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero. Dropping off two in the name of diversity would have brought in the frothing of the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Facts and history are nowhere nearly as important to diversity-multiculturalists as symbolism, but if it's symbolism that New Yorkers want, why not go all the way? Here's my suggestion for "the artistic expression of diversity." Having one black, one white and one Hispanic man is a good start, but not enough. I know FDNY obeys the Americans With Disabilities Act, so the statue should include persons in wheelchairs from each ethnic group. I would imagine that FDNY also obeys equal opportunity laws. There can't be sex discrimination. That means firewomen must become part of the "artistic expression of diversity" -- and it can't just be some white woman, it must include one black and one Hispanic woman. A true and complete commitment to the "artistic expression of diversity" requires that the statue include homosexual and lesbian firefighters. The nation's diversity-multiculturalists have other statue correction work to do, so as to promote the "artistic expression of diversity." Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the image of five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising our flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, during World War II. The statue created from his photo consists of five white men but only one diversity guy -- Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian. Since diversity trumps historical accuracy and facts, diversity-multiculturalists ought to demand that the Arlington, Va., memorial statue be reconfigured to include all races that fought in World War II. There's no end to the work for diversity-multiculturalists, so long as the rest of us remain timid idiots unwilling to stand up to their vicious nonsense. As this column goes to print, FDNY says it's considering other options.






Bush Hand-Picked Controversial 9/11 Stamp ^ | 3/17/02 | Carl Limbacher and Staff

Posted on Monday, March 18, 2002 4:28:50 AM by kattracks

President Bush personally selected a controversial photo of three white firefighters raising the American flag at Ground Zero for a U.S. postage stamp commemorating the 9/11 attacks, according to the congressman who introduced legislation proposing a stamp to memorialize the attacks last fall.

"The interesting thing here is [the Postal Service] sent about four or five designs over to the White House," revealed Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., during an interview Sunday with WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg.

"And the president, I think, picked this one. He picked the actual photograph - which is unusual, because we don't put live people on stamps," Ackerman said.

The much-celebrated photograph of firemen George Johnson, Dan McWilliams and Billy Eisengrein raising Old Glory amidst the rubble just hours after the attacks became embroiled in controversy in January after revealed rampant discontent within the New York City Fire Department over an earlier plan to portray the event with a racially altered statue of the three men.

The ensuing firestorm of public protest forced cancellation of the planned statue, with the Postal Service's selection two months later of the actual flag-raising photo widely viewed as a victory for historical accuracy over political correctness.

But it was not known until Sunday that Bush himself, and not the Postal Service, made the final decision on the stamp. Its unveiling took place Monday at the White House, with the president posing for pictures next to Eisengrein, McWilliams and Johnson inside the Oval Office.

The photographer who snapped the now world-famous shot, Thomas Franklin of The Record of North Jersey newspaper, was also on hand for the unveiling.

Playing off the brouhaha surrounding the canceled statue, Ackerman joked, "[The ceremony] was wonderful. Nobody showed up in blackface or turned into somebody else. They were who they started out that morning [as]."

The price of the 9/11 stamp will be 45 cents - 11 extra cents over normal cost - with most of the additional cost going directly to help the widows and children of the first firefighters lost in the 9/11 attacks, Ackerman said.

Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:






9/11’s Flag-Raising Heroes

Saturday, 10 Sep 2011 02:35 AM

By Carl Limbacher Jr.

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This article was featured in Newsmax magazine's special 9/11 1st Anniversary edition published in 2002 and reprinted below. To receive a copy of this special edition with the "America Rises" photo that inspired a nation, please Click Here Now.

Even a year later, the image of the three New York City firemen hoisting the American flag at Ground Zero just hours after the worst-ever attack on U.S. territory remains the most enduring image from that horrific day — and may be among the most inspirational tableaux in the country’s history.

flagraising firemen nyc terrorThe historic photo, taken by Thomas Franklin of The Record of North Jersey, conjures up two of America’s most moving battle icons — the victorious World War II flag-raising at Iwo Jima and the National Anthem’s defiant lyric celebrating the country’s resiliency under attack: “… the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

But a year after those three firefighters rallied a stunned nation with their real-life proof that our flag was still there, few Americans even know their names.

In fact, the FDNY’s Dan McWilliams and George Johnson, who raced to the burning Twin Towers that day from Brooklyn’s Ladder Company No. 157, along with Billy Eisengrein, who headed to the same destination from Staten Island’s Rescue Company No. 2, have shunned the spotlight ever since that week.

Their only public comments about the events that led up to the famous moment appeared in The Record three days after the attack.

McWilliams said he spotted the flag hanging from a yacht docked on the Hudson River after he and his crew were ordered to evacuate Ground Zero because of the imminent collapse of a third tower, the World Trade Center’s Building Number Seven.

Ordinarily, the fall of the 47-story behemoth would have been a momentous event in and of itself. It’s a measure of the magnitude of events that day that Number Seven’s disintegration rated barely a footnote in the next day’s news coverage.

Sitting in the kitchen of their Brooklyn firehouse two days later, McWilliams and Johnson recounted the sequence of events that led up to the legendary photo.

“Gimme a hand, will ya, George?” McWilliams recalled shouting to his buddy Johnson, in an interview with The Record.

“I knew exactly what he was doing,” Johnson added.

Standing nearby was Billy Eisengrein, who, as luck would have it, just happened to be a childhood friend of McWilliams when the two lived on Staten Island. “You need a hand?” Eisengrein shouted.

The three firefighters quickly found a perfect spot — a single flagpole anchored in the rubble about 20 feet off the ground on West Street.
As they raised the flag, the trio of heroes were completely unaware they were being photographed, they told the paper — let alone marching into history.

Where Are They Now?

Since that fateful Tuesday, it’s been a busy year for the three firemen who helped a devastated nation recover its spirit.

A firestorm of protest erupted after NewsMax reported the plan to obscure the firefighters’ true identities to make the trio racially diverse, including a black and a Hispanic. A surge of outrage forced the department to scrap the plan.

Through it all McWilliams, Johnson and Eisengrein have remained remarkably silent. An FDNY spokesman told NewsMax that the flag-raising trio had instructed his office to decline all interview requests.

But according to their lawyer, William Kelly, the months since 9/11 have been anything but uneventful for his three clients.

“They’ve been trying to keep as low profile as possible so they could get back to work,” Kelly told NewsMax, explaining that Johnson and McWilliams have since been promoted to lieutenant.

As demand skyrocketed for the famous flag-raising image, Kelly helped the firemen set up a charity, The Bravest Fund, to which 100 percent of the revenues they receive from licensing agreements are donated. The money goes to aid the families of firefighters, police officers and emergency service workers who were killed or injured on 9/11.

Though the flag-raising trio’s public appearances have been few, they were honored by a ceremony aboard the USS Teddy Roosevelt after the ship sailed into the Afghan war zone carrying the Ground Zero flag.
“The guys were taken aboard, and the U.S. Navy presented the flag back to them in a ceremony that was shown on the Today show,” Kelly said.

The office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which currently has
custody of the flag, will likely donate the 9/11 icon to the Smithsonian Institution, he said.

Since 9/11, the flag-raising image has become one of the most popular in the world. The image of the three firefighters came to symbolize America’s resiliency under attack. The highlight of the year was the trio’s visit to the White House in March for the unveiling of a U.S. postage stamp bearing their likenesses.

It’s the only time in the history of the U.S. Postal Service that the agency has issued a commemorative stamp featuring the images of still-living Americans.
Kelly gave NewsMax a behind-the-scenes account of the flag-raising trio’s visit with the president of the United States.

“I went down with them to the Oval Office,” he told NewsMax. “We spent about 20 or 30 minutes with President Bush,” who had reportedly personally chosen the image from several submissions approved by the Postal Service.
Unnoted in most press accounts of the event, however, was the gift the three firefighters brought with them.

It was a wooden box originally carved for the famous flag, given to Johnson by the family of a cancer-stricken 8-year-old boy in Kentucky whose life the fireman saved in 1997 when he donated his bone marrow.

“The box had an American flag on it, this beautiful little wood box,” Kelly said. “And when we were in the Oval Office, George gave that to the president.”

After Bush learned the story behind the gift, Kelly recalled, “He put the box on his desk and said, ‘The next time you see me on television in the Oval Office, you’re going to see this box sitting here on my desk.’”

Firefighters Still in Need

According to legal experts, families of the 343 firefighters who died on 9/11 may not have the same claim to government benefits as others who perished in the disaster.

“As it’s currently set up, the [federal compensation] program will likely leave the families of many emergency workers with no federal recovery money at all,” reported The National Law Journal in January. “If they opt out of the program and sue in court, on the other hand, the law makes it particularly difficult for police officers and firefighters to recover for death and injuries suffered in the line of duty.”

Worse still, said the Journal, under the laws of many states, including New York, firefighters and police officers generally cannot recover for injuries due to negligent acts, subject to limited exceptions. The “firefighters’ rule” is based on the assumption that police and firefighters are paid to put themselves in harm’s way.

New York attorney Michael Block, counsel for the Uniformed Firefighters Association, told NewsMax that he thought the needs of the 9/11 firefighters’ families were generally well taken care of under pre-existing pension plans and other statutory benefits.

But for 9/11 rescue workers who rushed to the Twin Towers and survived, it’s a different story.

Thousands of firefighters who didn’t die in the collapse spent months working on Ground Zero rescue and recovery efforts. Many of them now suffer from respiratory problems. In more than a few cases, those health problems have already ended careers.

“We’re actually representing several hundred firefighters who have filed claims against the City of New York for failing to receive adequate respiratory protection during the rescue and recovery efforts, Block explained. There have been more than 1,000 such claims filed so far, he said.
“None of the 9/11 funds has any particular benefits for the surviving firefighters that I’m aware of,” Block told NewsMax.

That’s one of the reasons The Bravest Fund was created.

“The Bravest Fund is the only fund that I know of that was established by active firefighters themselves,” attorney Kelly told NewsMax.” It is not limited to 9/11. We are trying to build something for the future.”

“Our goal now is to grow the fund and then start making donations to firehouses that have been overlooked by a lot of the charities currently in place,” he explained.

Important: We Can Never Forget 9/11! On the 10th Anniversary of that Day of Infamy, Newsmax is offering the “America Rises” 9/11 Photo of the three firefighters that inspired our nation. Please get this special image with our Limited-Edition 9/11 Anniversary Commemorative Set. A portion of the proceeds go to The Bravest Fund benefitting 9/11 heroes and their families. Please Click Here Now

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