By Liz Premo
Thursday, June 7, 2001
HAMPTON — Seacoast area firefighters honored their own in a special memorial procession and ceremony that featured an appearance by New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, who addressed those who gathered for the event in the gray morning mist this past Sunday.
Fire personnel from the towns of Seabrook and Exeter joined a contingent of their fellow firefighters from Hampton, North Hampton and Hampton Falls as they marched from the uptown fire station on Winnacunnet Road, passing under an "arch" which had been created by extending the ladders of two fire trucks from Hampton and North Hampton, parked in the driveway of the fire station.
Leading the procession behind an honorary color guard were Governor Shaheen; State Senator Beverly Hollingworth; NH Representative and Hampton Fire Lieutenant Rusty Bridle; County Attorney Jim Reams, retired Hampton Fire Chief and current Selectman Chairman Skip Sullivan; and Selectman Brian Warburton. Also participating were Hampton Fire Chief Hank Lipe and a number of both active and retired fire personnel, including Hampton Planning Board Chairman Tom Gillick, who served as a firefighter in Connecticut.
Accompanied by bagpipe music provided by the New Hampshire Firefighters Pipe & Drum Band, the marchers followed the parade route, heading down Winnacunnet Road, turning up Mill Road, and marching down High Street to the High Street Cemetery, where they were met by approximately 30 Seacoast area residents who gathered with them near the firefighters' memorial.
Reverend Wilbert Cough of the First Baptist Church of Hampton offered an opening prayer, encouraging those present to remember "those unsung heroes" — local firefighters "who laid,down their lives in service to others." Hampton Fire Chief Lipe then welcomed the dignitaries who were present, and introduced Governor Shaheen, who praised the firefighters because "in the severest conditions, you're willing to do [your job] day in and day out."
Governor Shaheen told firefighters that even though they may not know "what each day will bring, you're ready to put your safety and lives on the line." Recalling Manchester Firefighter David Anderson, who died while saving lives during a recent fire in that city, Shaheen praised firefighters for a "willingness to put yourself at risk" to make the lives of residents of their towns safe.
"It's important for us to remember, on a daily basis, the sacrifices made by you," the Governor said.
Following the Governor's remarks, representatives from North hampton, Hampton Falls and Hampton each read an honor roll listing the names of their fellow firefighters who have passed on. A ceremonial wreath was laid at the base of the firefighters' memorial, shielded under a leafy maple tree and flanked by the American and the firefighters' flags. While fire personnel stood at attention, the fire alarm blared several times from Station 2, followed by the strains of the traditional hymn, "Amazing Grace," on the bagpipes by the pipe & drum band.
Before the ceremony drew to a close, flowers were presented by Hampton Fire Alarm Attendant/Dispatcher Mike Murray to several firefighters' widows who were present that morning. A benediction offered by Reverend Gough and an echoed version of "Taps" closed the ceremony, which according to Lt. Bridle has been observed annually by the towns of Hampton, North Hampton and Hampton Falls "for 15- 20 years." As it has been in years past, the ceremony was a fitting tribute to those for whom firefighting, as Governor Shaheen had observed, "is not just a job, it's really a way of life."