By Jim Hagerty
Sculptor Josiah Henson expected a local following when the story behind his tribute to firefighters killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was printed, but a global audience never crossed his mind.
Henson, a firefighter from Byron, Ill., is the creator of Josiah’s Angel, a sculpture built with an expired fireman’s turn-out gear suit. The piece bears the names of each firefighter killed in the 9/11 attacks and is featured in the Wednesday, July 2, print edition of The Rock River Times.
When the story appeared online, Henson’s day-job supervisor, Richard Keck, picked it up and sent the link to others in their company.
Because Henson and Keck work for global consulting firm Accenture, distributing the story to several hundred people around the world happened at the click of a mouse. Within a day, Henson began receiving compliments from Japan, Germany, Australia and other places outside the United States.
“It’s nice that my work is being seen, not only locally, but around the world,” Henson said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Henson became a volunteer firefighter after he saved three children and a dog trapped in a runaway minivan as it approached an oncoming semi. When he learned that the expired suit was going to be shredded, he decided to preserved it to remember those who gave their lives wearing the same gear Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.
The 6-foot-4-inch sculpture will be revealed to the public Thursday, Sept. 11, at the Byron Fire Department.