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'Dear Hero' Collection comes home to NYC

In case you missed it. Children from across the globe handmade most of the 3,000 heartfelt gifts that make up the one-of-a-kind “Dear Hero” collection, which is comprised of poignant letters, heartfelt drawings and other tokens of gratitude delivered to firehouses across New York City after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The items were sent to the city's fire companies and firefighters as a show of gratitude, and to recognize their heroic efforts and sacrifice.  On 9/11, 343 members of the city's Fire Department were killed.

Tanya Hoggard, a Delta airlines flight attendant who volunteered at the World Trade Center during the recovery,  is behind the collection of the items. She began preserving them in early 2002 as fire stations began dismantling displays of the letters and drawings. Hoggard named the tokens the Dear Hero collection because that was often the salutation used by children in their notes and letters. The collection has been stored in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has returned  to New York City after nearly nine years.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum recently acquired the items and have added them to the permanent collection.

"For me, this is what I've been waiting for," Hoggard recalled. "Ideally, there will be a person who can one day show his or her own child what they sent to a rescue worker after 9/11."

In addition to numerous letters and artwork from children, the items include a U.S. flag fashioned from paper and $1 bills, ceramic angels, decorative quilts and a large wreath covered with dozens of small white teddy bears. Some items came from abroad, such as a flag signed by residents of Italy, a banner from Pakistan and a string of 1,000 origami cranes from Japan symbolizing world peace.

By Michael Frazier, Sr. Communications Manager for the 9/11 Memorial