After the pandemic hit, New York City florist Michael Collarone was forced to close all three of his retail stores and lay off every one of his employees. "We're lucky if we make enough money to keep our electricity on," the merchant known as "Mikey Flowers" tells the Washington Post. Still, he's keeping up the one job he doesn't get paid for. Ever since the September 11 Memorial Museum opened eight years ago, Collarone has donated white roses to be placed daily by museum staffers on the inscribed names of victims celebrating birthdays. Collarone, who'd helped search for victims in the wreckage of the Twin Towers, has kept the flowers coming even amid tightened supplies and higher prices during the pandemic. Collarone ultimately had to strike a deal with a supplier in the Netherlands, reports the New York Times.
He endured the markups with a smile, sending drivers to pick up the roses directly from the airport, per the Post. He kept that up even as the memorial was closed to visitors for months and his own business suffered. "I want to show people that the world is not over," he tells the Times. The effort was much appreciated. One woman, whose brother died on Flight 93, described her "tears of gratitude" in an email to memorial staff. "With all the insecurity and chaos that we face right now, knowing that our loved ones are remembered gives me great comfort," she wrote. That's the whole point, says Collarone. "It's about commitment to a cause, to a belief that even when times are tough, we will always remember these people and never forget." The roses appear next to the names of six victims on Friday. (Read more September 11 stories.)