Staff photo by Allison Potter
Captain David Knowles turns a shovelful of dirt in memory of assistant chief Harold L. Sandlin at the Wilmington Firefighter’s Memorial groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at the Empie Park Fire Station.
On the morning of Sept. 11, the Wilmington Fire Department, Station No. 2 at Empie Park broke ground for the Firefighters’ Memorial, scheduled for completion by this day of next year. Among those in attendance was Karen Miksch, a critical care flight paramedic with the New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She is married to a retired firefighter and wanted to show her support, not only to the firefighters and others in uniform, but the average Americans who came together in a time of crisis.
“Even the citizens of that day were heroes who came out to help their friends and neighbors,” she said.
Though Miksch didn’t know anyone personally who was involved in the 9/11 attacks, she still believes it is important for her and others to show support.
“It was the day that brought every race, sex, sexual preference, religion, it brought everyone together because we all have hearts … it’s a day worth coming out for to show how much we care for the lives they gave.”
Wanting to honor the 343 NYC firefighters who perished in 2001, Chief Buddy Martinette spoke of why they also chose to dedicate this memorial to seven Wilmington firefighters who lost their lives in service during the course of many years.
“It is the symbolism of that steel that pays tribute to all firefighters,” he said. “Strong enough to support even the heaviest of loads, tough enough to withstand even the most grave conditions, resilient enough to bend but not break under the pressures of the duties we so willingly perform … everything that is good and honorable about being a firefighter, that is what this piece of steel represents.”
As Martinette continued to address the crowd, he mentioned the initial concern over the design of the statue and how realistic the six-foot bronze firefighter, forged by local sculptor Ed Walker will appear as it lifts a hefty piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center. Artist Charles Liese will paint the sculpture once completed.
“I have witnessed many heroic acts by firefighters in my time,” he said. “And it would not be unrealistic for them to try and lift a steel beam off of a trapped colleague or victim, and it would not be unrealistic that the firefighter would be successful…”
Because the project is in construction stages, the Wilmington Fire Fighters Memorial Foundation still needs to raise more funds to complete the job. Jack Jarvis of the Wilmington Fire Dept. played the part of getting that piece of history here.
“This project has been about four years in the making,” he explained. “I’m looking forward to the community getting behind this and making this thing a reality.”
As Jarvis rang the bell after each name was read aloud, he remembered the connection he and all the other men and women across the nation have today.
“What those people did on 9/11 is the same thing that all seven of these guys did,” he said. “They went to work and they did their job. That’s what we do every single day.”
Garden spots, benches and shade trees, will surround the statue with a walkway constructed of pavers etched with personalized messages and the names of those being honored: assistant chief William P. Monroe, chief Charles Schnibben, Lieutenant Raymond D. Core, Lieutenant Emmett A. Williamson, firefighter Oscar D. Willis, Captain Burleigh Scotton, assistant chief Harold L. Sandlin.
This story was reported on www.LuminaNews.com on