By Becky Robinette Wright
The journey has been long and difficult for a piece of steel that has seen better days. The steel, once a part of a tall, strong structure in New York called the World Trade Center, fought its battle on Sept. 11, 2001, and, unable to withstand the attack, burned, crumbled, and fell. This piece, one of several shared across the nation
to serve in other memorials, found its place of honor at the Enon Public Safety Training Center in a special ceremony Oct. 13. With it, comes a reminder and a tribute to those died on that tragic day.
The effort to build the memorial was memorable itself. Joseph Short needed a project to help him earn his rank as Eagle Scout, and the steel needed a home. It was a perfect match.
“Blood Sweat + Tears is the name of a popular band that was formed in 1967, before many of you were born,” Captain Gerald Pruden of Chesterfield Fire and EMS said to the audience. “The name describes the efforts to complete the memorial. The average temperature during the day was 95 degrees. There was plenty of blood from blisters, tons of sweat, and lots of tears, especially from Joseph’s mom as he built the memorial.”
Lt. Clarence Singleton, resident of Chesterfield, retired firefighter from FDNY, and Sept. 11 survivor, also spoke. Singleton recounted his close call and injuries on that day and how much the memorial means to him.
One of Chesterfield Fire and EMS’s firefighters has close ties to FDNY.
Lt. Brian VanDrew took his turn at the podium. “My uncle Joe was a firefighter for FDNY,” he said,” he was one of the 343 firefighters that died that day.”
If you think about 343 firefighters, VanDrew said, that’s almost the size of Chesterfield Fire and EMS.
VanDrew continued, “My Uncle Joe loved the fire department, but there wasn’t anything he loved more than his family. When he died, he left behind a loving wife and four small children their ages from newborn to six years old. Uncle Joe had recently been assigned to Rescue 3 (FDNY), following in my grandfather’s shoes who also served in FDNY and on Rescue 3. My Uncle Joe was so proud, VanDrew said.
After Pruden, Singleton and VanDrew spoke, there was a dedication of a flag pole by Woodman of the World. Joseph Short of Troop 2837 spoke about building the memorial and thanked everyone who had helped him. “I couldn’t have done it without those who helped me,” Short said.
Next, Chesterfield Fire and EMS Honor Guard posted the flag.
The last and one of the most solemn parts of the ceremony was the tolling of the bell. Before advanced communication and luxuries like cell phones, when firefighters were at a fire and the call was done, the firehouse bell was rung to notify everyone that the firefighters were safe. But a different ringing of the bell announced to all that a firefighter had answered their last alarm. Keeping up with this tradition, fire departments still do the tolling of the bell when a firefighter dies.
Lt. Jason Elmore of Chesterfield Fire and EMS, offered the invocation at the beginning of the ceremony, and also offered the Benediction at the end.