Governor Benson Helps Hampton Honor 9/11 Victims

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By Steve Jusseaume

Hampton Union, Tuesday, May 27, 2003

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON - New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson, together with the children of Hampton police and fire personnel, unveiled on Monday a granite monument to the memory of those who died as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on this country.

The ceremony, at Fire Station No. 2 on Winnacunnet Road, followed Memorial Day exercises in Hampton, Hampton Falls and North Hampton.

Gov. Benson was escorted by Lt. Dave Lang, of the Hampton Fire Department, and president of the state Firefighters Association.

During a 35-minute ceremony outside the station house, Benson called America "a place where dreams can become reality" and commended the emergency personnel who died on Sept. 11, 2001 as "allowing us to be what we are, the greatest nation in the history of the world."

We should always remember "those who have given their lives so the rest of us can pursue our dreams," Benson said.

The governor was only one of several speakers, whose remarks came from under a tent outside the fire station doors on the dank, gray day.

Following a version of "Scotland the Brave" by the New Hampshire Firefighters Pipes & Drums bagpipe band, with Hampton Firefighter Dave Weber on the bass drum, former Fire Chief Skip Sullivan welcomed the several dozen residents who watched from inside the station. Sullivan was joined at the podium by Benson, current Fire Chief Hank Lipe, Police Chief Bill Wren and Kevin Gallagher, the 1st District vice president of the International Association of Firefighters and retired 27-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department.

"The New York City Fire Department was a pretty independent group. They never needed outside assistance. All that changed on 9/11," Gallagher said, recalling more than 340 funerals and memorial services that have taken place since the September 2001 attacks.

Noting that the bodies of 159 emergency personnel who died on 9/11 still have not been identified, Gallagher thanked the Hampton community and the "outpouring of support" from hundreds of communities around the nation.

"Let this memorial serve as an everlasting reminder of what happened on 9/11. None of us will ever forget," Gallagher said.

Sullivan - who spearheaded the creation of the memorial, which was funded in part by a local couple who prefer to remain anonymous - said the site should serve as a reminder of "the hundreds of civilians who died at the hands of terrorism, and the emergency personnel who died trying to save" them.

Ginny Bridle, vice chairman of the Board of Selectmen, called the site "a place to reflect and remember the ordinary heroes" who died on that day.

Lipe noted the memorial faces east, where the rising sun will cast its light on the rock, hopefully, on every anniversary of the attacks. Lipe then read General Order 03-11, issued by his office May 26, which read, in part, "We are organized to preserve and strengthen ... fraternal feelings, which have bound together all firefighters and police officers. What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts the barricade between our country and its foes? ... All that the consecrated wealth and taste of Hampton can add to their adornment and security is but fitting tribute to the memory of our fellow public servants. ...

"If our eyes grow dull, if other hands slacken, and if other hearts chill in the solemn trust, Hampton firefighters shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us. We will never forget."

Wren recalled watching the "horrible, horrific" events on 9/11 unfold on a television at work.

"This is not just rock and brick," Wren said. "It serves as a reminder to all of us of what happened that day" and the "men and women who are running toward an event when everyone else is running away."

At the conclusion of the service, Gov. Benson unveiled the memorial, along with Kelsey and Ashley, the children of Lt. Bill Kennedy of the Fire Department, and Michael and Matthew Sullivan, the sons of Police Department Lt. Jamie Sullivan, as the bagpipes played "Amazing Grace."

The plaque reads, simply, "This memorial is dedicated by the citizens of Hampton to the firefighters, policemen and the thousands of men and women who perished on September 11, 2001."

The plaque is dated May 30, 2003.

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