By Dusty Berke
“Juliana Valentine McCourt Age 4 VA flight 175 flew into God’s arms 9/11/2001”
“Poppy was killed here”
“This is for all the unsung heroes”
“The silence of your absence is still hard to hear”
These words are all inscriptions taken from Tiles for America, the makeshift community memorial that grew out of the Wall of the Missing on Greenwich Avenue and 7th Avenue, the heart of Greenwich Village.
On 9/11/2001, hundreds of people rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital and gazed down 7th Avenue in horror, as they watched the Twin Towers collapse into their own footprint. That sight that will be seared into memory for all time.
Around the corner, in Our Name is Mud (a local paint-your-own-pottery shop), Lorrie Veassy started making angel doves and American flags which she hung between the photos of the missing on the rusty chain-link fence that surrounded the MTA parking lot across from the hospital.
Lorrie reached out to local potters and soon tiles began to arrive from across the country. Families, children, church groups, scouts, and seniors expressed themselves on the tiny tiles that covered the fence which came to be known as the 9/11 Tiles for America Memorial.
The Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association (CCSA) and its member studios helped curate collections for the official 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the National Constitution Center. The studios gave people across the country the opportunity to convey their emotions and to be part of this beautiful living memorial.
There is also a small collection of tiles at the Jefferson Market Library (West 10th Street and 6th Avenue). Some of the newer, sturdier tiles are back hanging on the fence that the MTA created to bring the memorial back to life; the tiles continue to arrive today.
Sadly, many of the tiles are too fragile and too special to remain outdoors. We have close to 2,500 tiles in storage waiting and whispering to find a home.
Lorrie never imagined that the tiles would grow into such an important part of the West Village story and how many hearts would be touched by the messages. It’s a miracle that they have survived this long and we are committed to making sure they find a permanent home in the heart of the Village, which is where they belong. But we can’t do it alone. We need your help.
If you would like to join a committee to help create a permanent home for the tiles and a place to mourn loved ones and educate our children and visitors from across the globe about what happened that day, contact us at info@TilesForAmerica.com.
If you want to make a tile, visit CCSAonline.com to find a studio near you.
On 9/10/2017, join us for the Father Mychal Judge 9/11 Walk of Remembrance:
- 9:00 a.m.— Rosary (St. Francis of Assisi Church: 31st Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues)
- 9:30 a.m.— Catholic Mass
- 10:30 a.m.— Walk Begins at FDNY Engine 1/Ladder 24 (31st Street and 7th Avenue)
- 11:15 a.m. — Meet Squad 18 at 9/11 Tiles for America (7th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue)
- 2:30 p.m.— Walk concludes at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church (Barclay Street and Church Street)
All are invited to walk the route down 7th Avenue that Father Mychal Judge and so many others traveled on that fateful day. FDNY and NYPD precincts will be honored as we pray and remember.
On Monday 9/11/2017, we will be at the corner of 7th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue (Mulry Square) all day with a special collection of the original tiles. Also joining us will be the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus.Join us from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for a candlelight vigil with prayer and music as we remember those who are no longer with us.
Dusty Berke, Los Angeles interior designer, acquired the rights to 2,000 911 tiles.