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CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte-area family is remembering a hero who died 15 years ago in the 9/11 attacks.
Firefighter Steven Coakley was one of the men who gave his life to save others. His family now wants to make sure he’s not forgotten.
“That is a pretty cool picture,” said Kara Walker looking at a flag-draped picture of her daughter Courtney. “I think of the innocence that was taken away.”
That picture was taken one month after the September 11 attack.
“Any time I see that picture we think about 9/11 it hits you a little bit,” said retired Charlotte Fire Captain Jim Dedmon. “To me it’s the sign of our innocence lost. Terrorism was going to be a part of our lives whether we liked it or not.”
The two year old model is Courtney Walker, niece of New York firefighter Steven Coakley. The picture was snapped at Charlotte fire station 32. It was a way to bring home the tragedy to the region.
“I had three daughters and we tried it on all of them. The helmet was pretty heavy for their little heads. He got this one shot, and it was incredible,” said Kara Walker, sister of Steven Coakley.
A now 16-year-old, Courtney reflects on the picture.
“It definitely brings more of a connection to me for it,” said Courtney Walker. “I know more details about it. I know the significance of it.”
As a way to remember 9/11 and raise money for the Coakley Foundation, Courtney donned the flag and helmet one more time.
“It was weird. It was kind of small,” said Courtney Walker. “It’s been 15 years and showing the growth of me of 15 years and all the time that’s gone by.”
After hanging up his helmet, Dedmon is now a photographer and took the updated picture.
“It says to you, hey do you remember me. That’s the whole point of this is not to forget what took place there,” said Dedmon.
For Kara Walker, she’ll never forget. She hopes the new picture will help others remember.
“I hope people stop and reflect. I think a lot of people have forgotten. It would be nice for people to remember what happened that day and reflect how that changed everyone’s lives,” said Kara Walker.
The new picture will be put on a T-shirt and all benefits go to the Coakley Foundation.
You can join the foundation on the morning of September 9th putting up American flags out at Romare Beardon Park in Uptown Charlotte. There will be a memorial service September 11 at 8:30 a.m.