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Utica’s Benjamin Walker – Standing Up In Memory of 9/11 at Burrstone and Genesee Streets

Ben Walker - Utica
Gino Geruntino/TSM

“The day should be never forgotten, because this is a special day.”

Benjamin Walker stands at the busy corner of Genesee Street where Burrstone Road becomes the Memorial Parkway, holding up a handmade sign. Earlier in the day, he walked into Rite-Aid and bought a piece of white poster board, because he was tired of the forgetfulness.

It is- after all- 9/11.

“Some people forgot, but others didn’t,” Walker said. “So, I took it in my own hands, because we lost a lot of people. I’m just trying to make sure that we remember this day for our policemen, for our firefighters, paramedics and our civilians that lost their lives and their loved ones.”

As cars whiz by from every direction, their honks and beeps fill the void normally taken up by the sound of engines and music. He says the response has been overwhelming.

“It’s been beautiful,” Walker said. “People dropped me off coffee and apple pies, took pictures, stopped their cars and said, ‘I’m going to put you on Facebook, Youtube, that was nice of you, God bless you.’ You know, it’s just something that we all got to remember because, you know, it could have happened to one of us.”

His white sign is plain, with only red and blue letters to express his feelings. But, in a city where America has been considered a land of refuge for people from all over the world, those plainly written words mean much more than their face value.

Walker also never lost anyone in the attack, but says he feels sympathy toward those who did lose family and friends.

“I have sympathy for them because we’re all God’s children and we should love one another, and again, maybe it’ll help beef up security,” Walker said.

Next year, he plans to honor the event by bringing in more people. Thanks to the large outpouring of support this year, Walker says he has the energy to keep going.

“If the Lord’s willing, and I’m still around, most certainly,” Walker said. “But, I’ll probably do something different. A bigger sign. Much bigger.”

His promise to keep the memory of 9/11 will stay alive for another year.

Next: 9/11 Memorial and Ceremony in Utica

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