NEW YORK, July 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In commemoration of the FDNY's 150th anniversary, Emigrant Savings Bank Chairman Howard P. Milstein joined Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan on July 13, 2015 to unveil a plaque celebrating the "selfless heroism of New York's Bravest" and asking New Yorkers to show support for the men and women of the FDNY.
The plaque will be a permanent fixture next to the Kneeling Fireman, the iconic statue that became a makeshift memorial in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
"The Milstein family has a proud history of supporting the FDNY and we're honored to celebrate the resilience, endurance, heroism and service of New York's Bravest once again on the occasion of its 150th anniversary," said Howard P. Milstein, Chairman of Milstein Properties and Emigrant Savings Bank. "Started from humble roots as a volunteer group funded by levies on dirty chimneys, the FDNY has evolved into a state-of-the-art operation of which New York City is immensely proud."
"On September 11th, the image of a kneeling firefighter was seen countless times as FDNY members dropped to a knee from exhaustion, from heartache or to pause and remember the mentor, friend or loved one they had lost," said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. "This statue stands as a symbol of our commitment to never forget the supreme sacrifice of 343 FDNY members."
Following the unveiling ceremony, which featured performances by the FDNY Emerald Society's Pipes and Drums and Firefighter Regina Wilson singing the national anthem, Mr. Milstein presented to Commissioner Nigro a separate plaque with the words of the "Fireman's Prayer," which has provided solace to firefighters for decades and is inscribed on the Kneeling Fireman statue.
The statue, which depicts a firefighter on bended knee, arrived at J.F.K. Airport on Sept. 9, 2001. It was meant just to pass through the city on its way to Missouri, but was stranded when air traffic was halted after September 11. Originally destined for the Firefighters Association of Missouri, it was donated by that organization to the firefighters and citizens of New York in recognition of their losses in the attacks.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the Milstein family placed the statue, still lacking a home, outside its Milford Plaza hotel, which provided first responders with accommodations, food and supplies. The statue became a makeshift memorial as thousands of New Yorkers and tourists left candles, photographs of lost loved ones, prayer books, flowers and private notes. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Kneeling Fireman was installed permanently on the plaza outside the headquarters of Emigrant Savings Bank, the largest privately owned bank in the country.
Mr. Milstein and Emigrant Savings Bank have a proud history of supporting the FDNY. Founded in 1850 by members of the Irish Emigrant Society, Emigrant Savings Bank was created with the mission of supporting the financial needs of New York's growing immigrant community. Today, the bank continues this tradition by serving first and second-generation Americans, many of whom serve in the FDNY and other New York City emergency services agencies.
In addition to their many philanthropic pursuits, Mr. Milstein and Emigrant Savings Bank have been staunch supporters of both the FDNY Foundation and the New York Police Foundation. Following the 9/11 attacks, the Milstein family opened their buildings and hotels to assist FDNY members and other first responders working in rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero. Howard and Edward Milstein subsequently co-chaired and provided the lead gift for the COPE campaign, which offered post-traumatic stress counseling to NYPD personnel and their families in the years following September 11.
Mr. Milstein and Emigrant also bestowed a gift of more than $2.3 million to first responders following Superstorm Sandy; these funds were used to aid more than 2,300 firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel repair their homes and support their families impacted by the storm. Mr. Milstein was named an honorary FDNY Battalion Chief in 2012.
SOURCE Emigrant Bank