Remembering the Heroes of 9/11

Artist Michael McPheeters with Plano Fire-Rescue Engineer Larson Leideg // photos Jennifer Shertzer

After the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, all Americans suffered a sense of loss, and firefighters across the country mourned for fallen brothers they’d never even met. Larson Leideg, an engineer for Plano Fire-Rescue, wanted recently to honor those FDNY brethren, and decided a large mural at Fire Station #8, located at 4621 Hedgcoxe Rd., would be one way to do that.

“A group of us firefighters were just sitting around and talking about wanting to do something to memorialize those affected by this event,” said Larson. “This event drastically affected all the first responders and civilians on 9/11 but it had such a ripple affect across the country and the world. It became pre-9/11 and post-9/11.”

Station #8 mural completed // photos Jennifer Shertzer

The Plano Fire-Rescue Association assisted in collecting donations to make the mural project a reality. Local businesses who supported the effort included Advocare, Atmos Energy, Bank of America, BEHR Paint, Central Market, Cinemark, Classic BMW, CoServ, Frito-Lay/Pepsico, Home Depot #0527, Love and War in Texas, Plano Firefighters Association #2149, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Toyota of Plano, Tyler Technologies, Walmart #4182 and Walmart #2086. The money went toward funding supplies and compensating the artist.

Larson approached artist Michael McPheeters to paint the mural due to his credibility in the local art world. Michael was born in the Dallas area, spent his formative years as a grafitti artist in L.A. and then moved back to DFW about nine years ago. In 2015 he was awarded Muralist of the Year by DFW Art Awards.

“They call me Mr. Mural,” said Michael. “I have murals all around. In Deep Ellum I probably have seven, and close to 20 throughout Dallas.”

The 9/11 remembrance mural at Plano Fire Station #8 took about 60 hours for Michael to complete, and spans 30 feet by 20 feet.

Timelapse video of the mural in progress:

The first thing viewers will notice is a recreation of the iconic photo of three firefighters raising the flag after the 9/11 attacks. Larson said he appreciated that those firefighters still sought to give everyone hope despite the destruction and despair around them. Viewers will also see the Statue of Liberty facing back toward the NYC skyline. Michael said he intended her backwards gaze to symbolize her reflecting on the cost of liberty. Included in the art installation is a piece of steel from New York’s Ground Zero.

“Michael took our vision and put it on the wall,” said Larson. 

The purpose of the mural is to keep the sacrifice of the 9/11 heroes at the forefront of our community’s mind. The hope of Plano Fire-Rescue is that citizens around Plano will come see the mural, whether by walking by or visiting through a school event, and be reminded of the heroes from that day.

Editor’s note: Bank of America was added as a donor on March 9, 2020.

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