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New York City Celebrity Owl, Flaco, Dies A Year After Central Zoo Escape 

Flaco was the Eurasian eagle-owl who made headlines last year after escaping from New York City’s Central Park Zoo and becoming beloved by residents and individuals on social media. This past week, zoo officials announced that Flaco had unfortunately died, he was 13-years-old. 

Flaco initially escaped the Central Park after being freed from his cage in a criminal act that remains unsolved. The zoo said in a statement that Flaco likely was killed after colliding with a building in the Upper West Side. 

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“The vandal who damaged Flaco’s exhibit jeopardized the safety of the bird and is ultimately responsible for his death. We are still hopeful that the NYPD which is investigating the vandalism will ultimately make an arrest.”

The Wild Bird Fund, a wildlife rehabilitation center, sent its staff to respond to the scene of Flaco’s accident where they declared him dead shortly after he collided with the building. Flaco was then taken to the Bronx Zoo for a necropsy. 

“We hoped only to see Flaco hooting wildly from the top of our local water tower, never in the clinic,” the World Bird Fund wrote in a social media post

Flaco initially arrived at the Central Park Zoo as a fledgling in 2010. On February 2nd, 2023, someone broke in through a waist-high fence and then cut a hole through a steel mesh cage which would free Flaco. 

The zoo ended up suspending their efforts to recapture Flaco the same month he went missing, and since that point there has been no new information made public regarding his return. 

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However, since his initial escape Flaco has continued to make headlines, and has become somewhat of a mascot for New Yorkers. He was known to spend his days hanging out in Manhattan’s courtyards, parks, or the various fire escape perches, while he would spend his evenings perched on the city’s water towers waiting to hunt the rats of New York City. 

Avid bird watchers in the city would trach Flaco on his daily journeys, and some would even be surprised by him turning up outside of their windows as a place to rest. He’s become somewhat of a New York City icon, prompting an emotional response from residents everywhere. 

David Barrett is a New Yorker who’s been one of Flaco’s most dedicated watchers, and made a post online for the Manhattan Bird Alert suggesting a temporary memorial at Flaco’s favorite oak tree in Central Park where he was often spotted throughout the past year. 

Barrett wrote that this memorial would allow for fellow birdwatchers and fans of Flaco to “lay flowers, leave a note, or just be with others who loved Flaco.” 

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Post 9/11 First Responder Deaths Nearly Equals The Number Of Firefighters Who Died In 2001

The amount of first responders who unfortunately passed away due to illnesses relating to the 9/11 terrorist attacks has almost reached the number of first responders who died on the actual day, 22 years ago.

343 New York firefighters died during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Today, a total of 341 New York City Fire Department firefighters, civilian support staff, and paramedics have died from post-9/11 illnesses.

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The 341 first responders who passed away within the past two decades have been memorialized at the FDNY World Trade Center Memorial Wall, according to the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

According to a news release from Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, reported by CNN, the fire department added 43 names to the memorial on September 6.

“As we approach the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, the FDNY continues to feel the impact of that day. Each year, this memorial wall grows as we honor those who gave their lives in service of others.”

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“These brave men and women showed up that day, and in the days and months following the attacks to participate in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site. We will never forget them.”

The heightened risk of cardiovascular disease among the firefighters has been tied to the intense exposure of dust from the towers collapsing. Respiratory disease and thousands of cancer diagnoses have also been linked to the pollutants that were released during the attacks.

According to reports, more than 71,000 individuals are enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry. The Registry itself is a long-term study to better understand the physical and mental health impacts of the attacks.

Beyond the first responders who have been impacted by these ailments, workers of the World Trade Center, NYC citizens who were on the streets during the attacks, volunteers who were on Ground Zero after, and residents of surrounding buildings have also suffered lasting health impacts.

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Famous Neurosurgeon, Dr. James Goodrich, Known For Separating Conjoined Twins, Dies From Covid-19

Dr. Goodrich passed away this March at the age of 73 due to the coronavirus. He was most famously known for separating conjoined twins.

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The Importance of Remembrance

It is an obvious statement to say that time moves forward. Particular events move further and further away as we accelerate into the future but one can always find threads of the past woven into the present day. Every new year brings with it another marker on the tally of memorialization and 2020 in particular yields some rather relevant anniversaries. January saw the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, whose memorials brought the horrors of the Holocaust back to the forefront of the public mind. September this year will also mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of the second world war. Both occasions mark an “ending” but hold with them the weight of trauma and horror that cannot be undone or turned away from.

Many of us believe, on a personal level, to try not to live in the past. Indeed, it is the basis of many mindfulness practices. The past cannot be changed and it is the present moment that is important. Nevertheless, acts of remembrance and memorialization are an important part of our culture. Each year we celebrate days dedicated to public figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. (January 20th), days celebrating the country’s history such as Independence Day (July 4th) and days that deliver respect for those who have suffered for the country, Memorial Day (May 25th).

Public memory is short-term and with our faces turned to the future, we understandably get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Yet, some events shook the world so undeniably that they are remembered not only on designated public days, but in the teachings of histories, literature’s and physical memorials in our cities. The after effects of events such as the holocaust and World War 2 resonate clearly into the future.

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It can be argued that regularly remembering these events can stop history from repeating itself, recognize where we have evolved and where we have yet to change. Unfortunately, the Holocaust, although a chilling warning against fascism, is not a stand-alone event or a blip in human nature. We have seen it again and again throughout history and since, with Apartheid and most recently the coordinated attacks on the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Sadly, therefore, the Holocaust has important messages that still need to be repeated today.

The anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz relived the historical fact, shared the narratives of survivors and told the stories of those lost. The importance of remembering such an event not only pays homage to those affected, understanding that even after seventy-five years the damage has not lessened, but it holds a scrutinizing mirror up to society as we recognize the depths of evil that humankind is capable of.

The honoring of the victims of the Holocaust prompted important discussions of Antisemitism to come further forward. Like racism and many other forms of prejudice Antisemitism is still not a thing of the past and concern is mounting due to a rise in this form of discrimination. An article from the BBC noted that the Anti Defamation League had recorded 1879 incidents of Antisemitism in 2018 which, although down from the previous year, demonstrates a growing trend. Worldwide studies of Antisemitism indicated a rising level of prejudiced crimes overall.

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Although many of the year’s anniversaries fall under the title of “seventy-five years since the end of World War 2” scattered through 2020 are many anniversaries of importance within that cohort. Notably, August will mark seventy-five years after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A subject which is fraught with moral complexities but the true atrocity of which is undeniable. Sadness and respect and for the 70,000 innocent Japanese people is still felt today and is very important to memorialize. In today’s society the fear of Nuclear warfare has a firm placement at the precipice of the worlds mind as countries attempt to avoid conflict. Dubbed “the bomb that shook the world,” the unprecedented and unpredictable volume of its devastation still shocks and scares us today.

Memorialization is a crucial and cathartic pillar of society that allows both a communal grief, respect and solidarity. After times of such devastation this is important. Although seventy-five years may have passed there are still those alive who directly experienced World War 2, the Holocaust or the atomic bomb and those who dealt with loss or witnessed the after-effects and struggles of their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and so on. 2021 will mark twenty years since the Twin Tower Attacks. A memory that is painfully held in the minds of many, the losses of which still play a significant role in many of our lives today. Memorializing such events spread awareness and understanding in the public sphere. Just as teaching children in history classes can, in a controlled environment, appropriately educate and inform in order for a public evolvement to take place. Clear rights and wrongs can be underlined and through understanding prevent history from repeating itself.