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Child's LEGO set honors fallen dad

Manuel J. Damota, 9, never met his dad.

Manuel J. Damota, 9, never met his dad. On Sunday, he left a LEGO model of the Twin Towers on his headstone. (Sept. 11, 2011) Photo Credit: Emily C. Dooley

Manuel J. DaMota III awoke early Sunday and went to his LEGO set.

Out of red and white LEGOS, DaMota built a model of the World Trade Center towers, with small yellow pieces representing people.

Inside, on the top floor, he placed a single yellow LEGO piece. It represented his father, Manuel J. DaMota, who was in the trade center's north tower for a meeting and died in the attack. His wife, Barbara, was pregnant with Manuel at the time.

"I never got to see the World Trade Center, not even my dad," said Manuel, 9, from Valley Stream.

And so, knowing this was the 10th anniversary of the attack, Manuel built the LEGO towers and took them to Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury, where his father is buried.

"I want to put it on my dad's rock," said Manuel, wearing a T-shirt with his father's picture on it and clutching his creation, complete with a tall antenna perched on one tower.

"I tried to make it bigger, but I just didn't have any more of the windows," Manuel said. "I think he would like it," he said of his father, a project manager with Bronx Builders.

He asked family members for help describing the towers and made his replicas so that they sit on two risers, to represent the subway station and other structures below.

"I used a little help," Manuel said, adding, "I hope no one takes it."

No speeches or tributes were planned for Section 29 of the cemetery, where more than 70 Catholic Long Island victims of the attacks are buried. Their headstones surround a Pieta sculpture and a large granite block, bearing their names.

At least 15 friends and family came to see DaMota's grave. They share a common dream, Manuel said.

"I know everybody wishes to see one more time the people lost on this day," he said.

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