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Hearts reflect 9/11 victims - Local News - Delaware Valley, PA/NJ on Astini News

& Paper hearts touching the real kind is the idea behind a project spearheaded by a Lower Makefield woman who lost her first husband in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. &

Tara Bane-DellaCorte is organizing the effort, which involves students making 2,973 paper hearts, each one with the name of one victim of the attacks. The 8-by-12 inch hearts are sealed in plastic to protect them from the rain.

They are being strung together by Bane-DellaCorte and a group of volunteers and will then be strung on trees at the Garden of Reflection Sept. 11 Memorial in Lower Makefield prior to the remembrance ceremony there on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Michael Bane, Tara's first husband, worked in New York's World Trade Center and died there along with thousands of others when terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the towers. She married Andrew DellaCorte in 2006; the couple have a son, Cole, 2.

"Clara Chirchirillo and I came up with the idea when we were talking about what we could do for the 10th anniversary," said Bane-DellaCorte, 39. "We wanted it to be a community project to get people involved, particularly young kids who might not remember that day very well."

Chirchirillo lost her husband, Peter, who also worked at the WTC, in the attacks. Chirchirillo, a former Middletown and Lower Makefield resident, has moved out of the area and could not be reached for comment.

"We were originally going to stake them in the ground at the garden," Bane-DellaCorte continued. "But that wasn't going to work out, and I'm glad, because this way will send a much more hopeful message rather than looking like graves in the ground. The concept is kind of like Tibetan prayer flags, which blow prayers across to everyone with messages of hope, strength and peace."

The names of all 2,973 Sept. 11 victims are inscribed on glass plates at the Garden of Reflection. However, Bane-Dellacorte said she thinks the hearts will have a more dramatic effect on people, both visually and emotionally.

Each of the hearts has been decorated by the students in whatever way they wanted, she said. In addition to the name of a victim, many have drawings of flags or other images and messages such as "God Bless America," "We will always remember" and "Rest in Peace."

"It's the idea of a heart and its symbolism of love and compassion," said Bane-DellaCorte. "These hearts aren't even on the trees yet, but just in working on stringing them together, I'm overwhelmed by how much surface they are going to cover. If they were people standing there, you can get an idea of how long a line that would be and how many people died on that day."

Bane-DellaCorte started in March by contacting officials at Charles Boehm, William Penn and Pennwood middle schools in the Pennsbury school district to see if students there were interested in making the hearts. She also contacted Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley.

Bane-DellaCorte made more contacts, and the word also spread via email and the Internet about the project. Paper hearts soon started coming in, and Bane-DellaCorte and friends and volunteers have been stringing them together at her house.

The project has been really labor intensive, she said. In addition to helping sort and string the hearts, Bane-DellaCorte has been checking them against her master list of victims to make sure all are included and all names are spelled correctly.

Most of the hearts were made by the Pennsbury middle school students, she said, but some have come from students in New Jersey and New York and other states on the East Coast. Some high school and college students also have contributed, Bane-DellaCorte added.

Among her helpers on the project is Lower Makefield resident and former township Supervisor Grace Godshalk, who lost her son William in the WTC attacks.

"I'm looking at these hearts as I'm stringing them together and I'm so impressed with the beauty of the artwork and the words," said Godshalk. "I came across the heart for my son and it had a picture drawn of the sun and someone flying a kite, and it reminded me so much of him because he liked to draw pictures like that."

Bane-DellaCorte said she was also especially moved when she saw the heart for her first husband, Michael.

"It was a simple design, with just his name and some nice colors blended together," she said. "That was fitting because Michael was a guy without all the bells and whistles, who liked to stay in the background."

Another volunteer on the project, Bane-DellaCorte's next door neighbor, Maureen Christian-Petrosky, said she has been deeply touched by the experience.

"I look at these hearts and it reminds me that this isn't just a day on the calendar when a horrific event happened, but something that we all carry in our hearts because we're all Americans," said Christian-Petrosky. "While we're working on this, everyone has stories to tell about where they were that day and their own personal remembrances, so it's been very therapeutic for the entire neighborhood."

Bane-DellaCorte said she and her volunteers plan to string the hearts on trees at the garden on Sept. 6 and 7. They will be strung low enough so that everyone can read them, she added. The hearts will probably be left up until about two weeks after the Sept. 11 ceremony, Bane-DellaCorte said.

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