Above: Two ArtAID ornaments available at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, in honor of the FDNY and NYPD.
Mike Blackwell describes himself as a “very patriotic person.” At the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, he was a field training officer with the North Las Vegas Police Department, where he is serving as a police sergeant and K-9 unit supervisor.
Blackwell was asleep when the World Trade Center towers were hit. His wife received a call from dispatch requesting Blackwell to start his shift early that morning. His early start was a precaution against any possible attacks in their area. Fortunately, Blackwell said, “I went in service as usual and worked what turned out to be an uneventful shift while tracking the news.”
The events of 9/11 caused Blackwell to feel “rage, hate and vengeance against our attackers.” However, as time went on, he said he increasingly felt a great deal of sadness and American pride.
“The sadness for the loss of American lives on that day still remains,” he said. “When I think about the courageous acts of the New York Police, fire and EMS workers on that day, it reminds me why I’m proud to be an American.”
Last summer, Blackwell’s son wanted to visit New York for a family vacation. Blackwell said he and his wife decided they had to visit the World Trade Center site, and they did in June.
While Blackwell was standing on the corner of Vesey and Church Streets, he saw the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site. Blackwell said he got “caught up in the emotion of looking at the site and thinking about that day.”
After leaving the preview site, Blackwell’s wife showed him the K-9 police officer bookmark and ornament she purchased. He realized he wanted to bring back items as well so he ordered more from the preview site and the 9/11 Memorial’s Museum Shop.
All net proceeds from the shop’s sales are dedicated to developing and sustaining the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Blackwell purchased six bookmarks and two ornaments to give each one of his K-9 handlers. He said these items "represent what we do and our commitment to what we do regardless of the risk involved. 9/11 is the ultimate example of that commitment and risk."
Design: The images for the ornaments were created by Keith Paiseczny, artist and founder of ArtAID, whose guardian angel designs have become important and inspirational symbols of tribute and healing in response to Sept. 11. They are used in tributes and remembrance services and can be seen hanging in firehouse and police precincts across the country.
By Meghan Walsh, Communications Associate for the 9/11 Memorial