As 9/11 Anniversary Approaches, NY1 Revisits New Yorkers of the Week

Today, as we remember the events of 9/11/2011, POHC also looks back on the formation and early history of the Choir. The article below was originally published by local news station, NY1, on September 5, 2003. Check out the video on the NY1 website. As the two-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center nears, NY1 decided to revisit some of our previous New Yorkers of the Week, spotlighting some of those who continue their work to help New York City heal and remember.

As 9/11 Anniversary Approaches, NY1 Revisits New Yorkers Of The Week Laura Yanes began her journey of honoring firefighters across the city two years ago with a simple photograph of a firefighter sitting on his rig. She planned on delivering it, ironically enough, on September 11.

After the tragedy she felt desperate to know if the fireman in the photo was alright. She visited the house and found that he was okay, but it was the request of the other guys from the house that spurred her full-scale project.

“It seemed like a simple request and a simple way to say thank you, so I started,” says Yanes. ”Two pictures led to eight more, and that led to 20 more, and now I'm at 4,500.”

Yanes found the pictures brought some firefighters comfort - in case something were to happen, they'd have a professional photograph to be remembered by. To others, it brought the joy of laughter.

As the second anniversary approaches, Yanes is still hard at work, taking photographs of any firefighter who wants them. She says it's her special way of saying thank you.

“When I say 'thank you' to these guys, I always say, 'You were there every day before 9/11, and you've been there every day since,'” says Yanes. “I'm just happy to honor that and say thank you, not for just what they did on 9/11, but for all of it.”

Remember the Peace of Heart Choir? Jeff Becker formed the choir in a matter of days after the terror attacks, and they continue to let music be their guide for honoring all of those lost that tragic day.

“There's a need to honor. Two years out, there was still that need to honor, honor what was lost, who was lost, what was lost,” says Becker.

They sang songs of hope, spreading messages of healing and remembrance. They even brought laughter. Two years later, the choir is still together, bonded in their mission to bring peace and unity to a community that still so badly needs it.

“I think we're out there trying to soothe people and give them a little bit of an uplifting experience,” says choir member Charlie Palmer.

They inspire by example, including all ethnicities, races, religions into their choir, and singing in dozens of different languages. They show that being different is what makes us New York.

“When people see us it gives them a different perspective,” says choir member Vanessa Wilson. “Things that have happened in the city that were awful, people were blamed, but when they look at is they know what it's all about. It's about sharing and togetherness.”

In the end, their music, like Laura Yanes's pictures, continue the process of healing and moving forward, all the while never forgetting. That's why they're our New Yorkers of the Week.

If you'd like to help Laura Yanes, you can email her at Also if you'd like more information or tickets to the Peace of Heart Choir's upcoming concert, please call 212-781-9821.

If you know someone who would make a good New Yorker of the Week, or if you have an idea for a story you'd like to see, send an email to, or mail a letter to:

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