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I was privileged to be selected to carry the Olympic Torch in honor of my son in an Olympic Torch relay which took place on December 23, 2001, aboard a New York Waterways Ferry. The passing of the Torch took place in front of our Country's symbol of freedom, the Statute of Liberty. The articles which follow detail the event.

It is hard to describe the feelings I felt in representing my only son. It was a moment of great honor, to bring tribute and hold high a flame which represents eternal light; a light which shines on in the darkness so that we can see and that we will find a way to seek peace -- in our hearts and minds, to move forward from the atrocity of 9/11 and to resolve to be better to our fellow human beings.

As part of the ceremony, the ferry paused opposite Ground Zero for a moment of silence and personal reflection. All you could see from the boat were the lights from the site, yet the feeling inside me was eerie and discomforting -- for I knew that my son's body lay there since 9/11 and had yet to be recovered. However, the thought to which I clung, the thought which gave me peace and hope was the inscription on the Torch "Light the Fire Within". It was then that I decided to share my experience and began a journey of my own with the Olympic Torch.

I purchased an additional Torch and designed and built a plaque to display that Torch. On a piece of marble on the plaque was inscribed with the names of the fifteen fallen heroes from Paul's house (photos follow). When I began this project, I felt my son's artistic hands guiding me. The Torch and plaque now reside in Paul's firehouse at 48th Street & Eight Avenue in Manhattan -- The Pride of Midtown -- and was dedicated on May 21, 2002, the same day as the Firefighters Memorial Park on 48th Street, across the street from Paul's firehouse.

I also took the Torch to Evangel Christian School on May 3, 2002, where Joshua is a student. Evangel Church is where Paul was raised to know and love the Lord. I made a presentation to the school children at Evangel and each child had their photograph taken with an authentic Olympic Torch.

It is my hope that everyone who held the Torch and everyone who sees the plaque will light their own personal fire within.

John Gill, Father

Olympic Torch Articles and Photos


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