Wooden Sept 11th tribute displayed in Maspeth bank

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What the Key Largo resident did, however, was unique,...

By Alex Ginsberg

Mo Schneider was one of the countless Americans who woke up on Sept. 12, 2001, with the urge to do something — anything — to help assuage the pain the nation was feeling after the terrorist attacks.

What the Key Largo resident did, however, was unique, and it was on display last week in the window of Maspeth Federal Savings on 69th Street in Maspeth.

Her tribute was to painstakingly burn every one of those 3,054 names into a 8-foot-high, 8-foot-wide wooden triptych, a process to which she devoted approximately nine months.

“I would carry this to work on my back,” Schneider said, “work on it for eight hours, then take it back home and work for four hours.”

The finished product features three panels — two smaller side panels fixed on hinges to a large central section — on which the names of the victims are listed according to where they were on Sept. 11. The left panel lists the passengers on each of the hijacked airliners, then the personnel killed at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., followed by the emergency service responders killed at the World Trade Center.

Both the central and right panels are filled up with the names of civilians who died in the towers. Above the central panel, in large letters, is the title of Schneider’s memorial, “America’s Heroes, Heaven’s Angels.”

On the back of the 3/4-inch varnished plywood memorial Schneider burned the images of two bald eagles. A friend then airbrushed a giant, flapping American flag around the birds and painted “Let’s Roll Flight 93” in gold.

But the most impressive feature is the list of names.

The 59-year-old native of Scotland went through three 50-watt irons and hundreds of tips, the small pointed end part that makes contact with the wood, to inscribe them. She said she used newspaper reports, and calls and e-mails from victims’ relatives to compile the list.

She even used the Web site for the popular television program “America’s Most Wanted” to obtain the names of the 19 hijackers so she could be sure they would not somehow find their way onto her memorial.

Schneider’s worst nightmare? That she somehow overlooked someone.

“My heart has already stopped 500 times already,” she confessed.

Schneider, who is an assistant with the Chamber of Commerce for a town near her Florida home, has been working on wood-burning crafts in her spare time for the past five years. Before crafting the Sept. 11 memorial, she prepared one in honor of race car driver Dale Earnhardt, who died February 2001.

She also collaborated with a neighbor on an Iraq war memorial, a giant wall on which hang 244 wooden hearts, each bearing the name of a coalition soldier or journalist killed during the conflict.

Both the Iraq and Sept. 11 memorials have been on a three-week tour, trucked to libraries, parades, schools, picnics and even boat races in Florida, Illinois and Connecticut in the back of Schneider’s green Ford ranger.

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:23 pm, October 10, 2011
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