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Anibal Collazo donates painting to WPCL

  • LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Carol Kern, director of the Western Pocono Community Library, accepts, on behalf of the library, the donation of the painting "She Shed Tears" from the artist, Anibal (Andy) Collazo, a retired FDNY firefighter.
    LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Carol Kern, director of the Western Pocono Community Library, accepts, on behalf of the library, the donation of the painting "She Shed Tears" from the artist, Anibal (Andy) Collazo, a retired FDNY firefighter.
Published September 12. 2011 08:28AM

Artist Anibal (Andy) Collazo donated a painting to the Western Pocono Community Library in Brodheadsville.

The painting was unveiled and dedicated on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at the library with a reception immediately following.

The painting depicts the Statue of Liberty in the forefront with two large tears running down her face with the Twin Towers in the background falling in a blaze of destruction. It is titled, "She Shed Tears."

Carol Kern, WPCL's director, began the ceremony by reading the sonnet "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, which is inscribed on a bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

"A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows worldwide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 'Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!' cries she with silent lips.

'Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'"

"Yes. We all shed tears on that day and for many more days and years that have followed," said Kern.

"This is the one event in American history whose name reflects the date on which the event happened. The 10 tumultuous years of America's history have passed and have come to symbolize the determination and courage of the United States to maintain its freedom.

"Yes, so much of the world has moved on since Sept. 11, 2001, with countless acts of courage, bravery, generosity, sacrifice and patriotism. The American spirit lives on and will continue to live on as we all strive together for freedom," she added.

"The gift of this painting will serve as a constant reminder to all who pass through the doors of Western Pocono Community Library of our small part in remembering all the heroes at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Shanksville."

Kern closed with words by Nathaniel Hawthorne ... "Time flies over us, but leaves its shadows behind."

She introduced Collazo who said, "I'd rather be fighting fires with my brothers than make a speech. This will be short. I wanted to donate a 9/11 painting to the library. Carol liked the idea and we agreed that the painting would be donated in memory of the residents of Monroe County who lost their lives on that tragic day.

"I thought about it and thought about it. Finally I knew I wanted to paint the Statue of Liberty, standing there on the bay, with the torch in her hand held high above her head and at the foot of lower Manhattan stood the Twin Towers," explained Collazo.

"She, representing freedom, opportunity as well as international friendship and who was a witness to this horror, must have cried. Just like we all cried that day. That's what I painted and that's why I named the painting, 'She Shed Tears.'"

Collazo has focused his art on what he knows best ... firefighting. Now retired, he was a FDNY firefighter for 23 years at Engine Company 35, earning four unit citations.

He was already retired when 9/11 happened, but says he lost friends and sons of friends, fellow firefighters, that day.

"After the tragic loss of FDNY 343 of my brother firefighters on 9/11, I decided to dedicate most of my art work to those firefighters."

Eight of those paintings are now on display at the library, all depicting a FDNY firefighter's view of that fateful day.

"What appeals to me is the realism of his paintings," says Jacqueline Mock.

Julia Sager says his paintings brings chills and tears to her eyes.

"They represent all Americans," said Sager.

It may have been that realism that earned Collazo another honor.

His painting, "Parade of Heroes," depicting several FDNY firefighters in dress uniform each holding an American flag, was selected to grace the cover of 5,000 printed programs for the 9/11 service to be held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

"Wow. What an honor," says Collazo.

Collazo and his wife of 51 years, Mary Ellen, have lived in Effort for the last 18 years. They have two children and six grandchildren.

Kern presented Collazo with a certificate of appreciation and one to representatives of the West End Fire Co. 43-6-1, who were present at the ceremony.

They included John McKeever, Assistant Chief, T.R. Bobbert, Fire Police Lieutenant and Jon Mostaffa, firefighter. They arrived in the fire company's ladder truck; raised the ladder and the American flag flew proudly at the top.

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