Firefighters' Memorial Is Unveiled At Hampton Station
By Nancy Rineman
Atlantic News, Thursday, May 29, 2003
HAMPTON -- Memorial Day 2003 will be remembered for honoring not only the nation's Veterans, but those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 as well.
A lasting tribute to the firefighters, police officers and hundreds of civilians who perished in the terrorist acts of that day was unveiled at a ceremony at Fire Station No. 2 on Winnacunnet Road on Monday [May 26, 2003]. The granite monument was erected through the generosity of a Hampton family that wished to remain anonymous.
The chill in the air was for a time displaced by the warmth of the gathering, which was an impressive number of community members for such a dismal weather day. While most assembled just inside the fire station due to the rain and wind, local dignitaries and officials stood at a podium beneath an awning outside.
Governor Craig Benson joined former Hampton Fire Chief William "Skip" Sullivan, currently a member of the Hampton board of selectmen, as well as Hampton Fire Chief Hank Lipe and Hampton Police Chief William Wrenn.
Benson talked of America as being a place where "dreams become a reality," and the "greatest nation in the entire history of the world."
"This memorial brings us to another reality," Benson said. "War is not just overseas anymore. War is right here in this country."
Benson said the day and events symbolized that the American dream never dies, and that those who have sacrificed their lives should never be forgotten.
Lipe spoke of the strong tradition of honor and reverence adhered to by firefighters across the country.
"Hampton firefighters are no different," Lipe said. "We stand here together today to memorialize our fallen brothers from the tragedies of September 11, 2001 and to honor their ultimate sacrifice."
Lipe talked about the setting of the monument, where the architect brought in the Pentagon shape around the brick patio and the granite towers symbolizing the World Trade Center.
"The monument is facing east and with any luck on September 1l, the sun will be shining on this monument," he said, much like the clear, blue-sky day in 2001.
Lipe issued a Hampton Fire Department General Order, No. 03-11, designating May 26, 2003 as a day of dedicating the public safety memorial at Fire Station No. 2. The wording of the order was taken in part from that issued by General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic on May 30, 1868, which established "Decoration Day."
Chief Wrenn recalled the morning of September 11, 2001 as being a "day like any other." He spoke of the disbelief and shock that was experienced as the news continued to unfold.
[This] memorial today is more than just, a rock, more than just a brick," Wrenn said. "[It] serves as a symbol of what happened that day. It, changed our lives ... an our country forever.
"These are the men and women who are running toward the event as others are trying to get away," Wrenn added.
Hampton Fire Lieutenant David Lang, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire, introduced Kevin Gallagher, former president of the New York City Firefighters. Gallagher had traveled that morning from a Muscular Dystrophy Association benefit sporting event held in Orlando, Florida, against the NYC Firefighters. Gallagher said making the trip to Hampton was the least he could do, given the support, Hampton firefighters lent his department in the aftermath of September 11.
Gallagher said beyond the horrific event came the need to attend the funerals of so many. That's when the support and presence of others, such as Hampton firefighters, became invaluable.
"The prayers and financial support to our families made the situation more bearable," Gallagher said.
Gallagher said he will never forget the hundreds who came to New York each week, and especially the 80,000 who turned out to march on October 12, 2002 in the pouring rain.
"It was extremely important to me to be here today," Gallagher said, adding that it was equally meaningful for New York City Police, Port Authority Police, and the victims of the World Trade Center.
"You treated each firefighter lost as one of your own," Gallagher said, as he addressed the Hampton community. "Today's memorial event shows that you will never forget."