NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -A retired firefighter is completing a labor of love, just as the world gets ready to mark 20 years since the 9/11 attacks.
He built a very special truck to carry the caskets of fallen NYPD officers in memory of one who died of 9/11-related cancers.READ MORE: Tunnel to Towers Weekend Kicks Off With Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert At Liberty Park
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, it’s a dream coming to fruition after three years in the works. The truck has a lot of heart built into it. It’s an extraordinary gift from retired FDNY firefighter Wayne Forte, who lost his police officer friend Scott Blackshaw to 9/11-related cancers.
That’s when Forte discovered there’s no place of honor to carry fallen NYPD officers to their final resting place, as the FDNY has. So he decided to build one: A ceremonial truck for officers’ final ride.
“Putting your life on the line for New York City residents. That’s the least I could do is give them something honorable like this,” Forte said.
Forte has spent three years designing and building: First a converted ambulance, but its engine broke down. Then, a pickup truck.
“Cleaning it, painting the back body, putting a lift in the back for the casket,” Forte said.
Donors came through with dollars. Volunteers donated time.READ MORE: 20 Years After: The Transformation Of Ground Zero
“9/11 was a horrible thing that happened, and they didn’t give it a second thought to do what that had to do. So we can show our appreciation,” said graphic designer Wayne Blast.
Blackshaw’s name is on the truck, but his brother says it will honor all our first responders.
“We need to remember the individuals that put their life on the line in sacrificed for all of our safety and security in the U.S.,” David Blackshaw, Scott’s brother, said.
The ceremonial unit can be used for future 9/11-related funerals and other fallen officers, if their families choose. Forte says he hopes it sits in a garage and is never needed, but knows it will be.
And when it is?
“They should understand what that officer sacrificed,” Forte said. “We’re not the highest paid, but we should be the highest respected.”
Forte says if he doesn’t sleep, it will be ready by Friday, in time to deliver to the NYPD for 9/11.MORE NEWS: Remembering 9/11: Live Reading Of Names Returns To Lower Manhattan Ceremony Honoring Victims Of Terror Attacks 20 Years Ago
The truck will be used on Saturday for an NYPD 9/11 ceremony.