Tuesday, 26 February, 2002
Creator of East End ice sculpture warming
hearts of Americans and learning about pain of
There is a price to helping to heal the
You relive that pain when, in thanking you,
people tell you stories of exactly what losses
you’ve helped them overcome.
That’s especially true if, like Darlene
Racicot who created an ice sculpture of an
angel comforting an exhausted New York
firefighter holding the American flag post
Sept. 11, you have the imagination and
compassion to put yourself in their shoes.
"We were only imagining what their pain was
like before," Racicot said Monday.
"Now we’ve heard from the families, ordinary
people like us, who were left behind. There’s
a lot of pain and I’m certainly feeling it
After receiving hundreds of e-mails from
people around the world, including many
touched directly by the tragedy, Racicot and
her husband Rick know in detail the
dimensions of the loss she tried to console,
through her choice of sculpture for the recent
South Porcupine-Porcupine Winter Carnival.
Working steadily at replying to the outpouring
of emotion, in the three days since the
covered the beginning of the phenomena
and published her e-mail address with her
permission, Racicot has been left sleepless
and wrung out.
"Some I can just send a brief thank you to,"
"To others you have to say more—their
stories bring tears to your eyes. You have to
think of what to say in response to things
"They all say 'thank you,' say how the image
helped them to heal and they say it so
As much as that’s appreciated by Racicot, it
tears her heart and her empathic nature.
She has replied to hundreds of e-mails
already, with hundreds to go, while people are
cued up on the Internet to get through to her.
Rick estimates another 70 e-mails came in
Monday by 5 p.m.
The backlog grows despite his wife wearing
herself thin to reply to them all.
People may have to expect longer waits for
replies as her family insists she take care of
Another thing straining Racicot’s tear ducts
is the enormity of the praise she is
"I’m so overwhelmed," she said. "One e-mail
read, 'Many people came to our aid, but you
helped us rise above it.' To me it’s a bit
much—I’m just me. I don’t feel
there are others that gave so much more."
Regardless, as Susan Blanch, producer with
news radio station WCCO in Minneapolis, Minn.,
told Racicot, "You don’t have any idea the
impact you’ve made here."
Blanch has arranged an interview with Racicot
on their Tim Russell Show at 10:40 a.m. today
and was impressed with the South Porcupine
resident’s compassion in their first phone
"She started crying as we talked about
people’s reactions and I’m going to start
crying just thinking about it," Blanch said,
Monday. "It was so sweet—she’s such a neat
In another display of character, Racicot gave
Blanch the number of the artist whose painting
of two smaller angels kneeling at the
firefighter’s knees, had been digitally
modified to a new pose in the e-mailed image
Racicot based her sculpture on.
The artist, Gray Lineback
also contacted Racicot along with people from
Australia, Sweden, England, Japan, Israel as
well as from across Canada and the United
Racicot hopes Lineback will be interviewed at
the same time, in a conference call.
The second, supercharged stage of Racicot’s
fame began at 7 a.m. Saturday, shortly after
the Daily Press hit the stands.
Her husband handed her the paper and the phone
at the same time, before she was fully awake.
"This amazing lady, a poet from New Mexico
with her own Web site, was screaming excitedly
on the phone, 'I’ve found you! I’ve found
Known online as Sky, she wanted permission to
start pages on Racicot’s sculpture, titled
From Fire to Ice. The results can be seen
online at firstname.lastname@example.org
[http://www.goldenmoon.org/~skyangel/fire_ice3/fire_ice3.html: no longer up].
They include the text of Saturday’s Daily
Press article, phone and e-mail conversations
with Racicot on topics like construction
techniques and additional images with people
to give a sense of the sculpture large scale,
which shocked Sky.
The site closes with the type of words Racicot
has difficulty associating with herself, but
represent American feelings nonetheless.
"I know all our hearts have been touched by an
angel—Darlene, you are that angel, Sky."
"She’s on a mission," Racicot said. "She said,
'I’ll leave no stone unturned until
everyone in the world has seen this picture.'
There’s a button on one page for people who
want to e-mail me."
Sky will have lots of help in spreading the
Racicot has responded to a steady stream of
e-mails requesting permission to post the
image and others saying it’s already done.
The sculpture image is also on
and can be downloaded from
the Daily Press
site as "wallpaper," for
Racicot places no limit on postings, but is
absolutely firm that any money made from the
image will go to Sept. 11 relief.
A company contacted her Monday for permission
to produce lapel pins with the image. Racicot
is putting all licensing decisions on hold,
until she can turn them over to trusted
relatives in western Canada who have
experience in charitable licensing.
Racicot is still trying to take it all in.
"Susan (Blanch) told me it’s because North
Americans hear of bombings overseas, but don’t
really associate it with home. There are no
monuments to those kinds of occurrences and
mine is the first."
"I am the flag," an online tribute to the
American flag, complete with images of it
being raised on the moon, Iwo Jima and Ground
The site now ends with Racicot’s sculpture.
Between a waving American and Canadian flag,
is a message reading "America thanks you. You
have touched our hearts. Sculpture created by
Darlene Racicot, Timmins, Ontario, Canada."
"I saw that and said, 'My God! That’s our flag
up their beside theirs, on a Web page
dedicated to the American flag,'" said a
touched and overwhelmed Racicot.
"It’s a little too much for me," she said of
the licensing requests and the e-mails that
demand an answer through their poignancy.
"Everything is coming a bit too fast."