SALEM -- At a Wednesday evening dedication ceremony for the new 9/11 memorial at Veterans Park in Salem, Gov. Chris Sununu said the granite monument honors our nation’s firefighters, policemen and men and women in uniform who fought and continue to fight wars that were the consequence of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Let’s not forget, this country is still at war,” Sununu told a crowd of hundreds of community members who turned out for the ceremony. “The least we can do is remind ourselves what that’s all about.”
Sununu said everyone had their own take on 9/11, they each had their own story to tell and what the tragic attacks meant to them. But it was the national unity that followed 9/11 that should be the lasting legacy, he said.
“It should not take a tragedy of epic proportions to bring people together,” he said.
He said New Hampshire has the opportunity to be the gold standard for how we treat one another, and he thanked the organizers of the Salem N.H. Won’t Forget Committee for making Salem an example of what makes New Hampshire great.
The committee, which is under the umbrella of the American Legion Post 63, put the memorial together under the chairmanship of Pat Hargreaves and, with the help of retired New York firefighter Bob Sapienza, State Fire Marshal and former Salem Fire Chief Paul Parisi, and Town Manager Chris Dillon, obtained a piece of steel from the World Trade Center buildings for the memorial’s centerpiece.
Honor guards from The Salem Fire Department, Salem Police Department and the Junior ROTC from Salem High School presented the flags during the Pledge of Allegiance led by Salem Fire Chief Larry Best.
Salem Fire’s chaplain gave the invocation, a letter from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was read by Parisi and a letter from Sen. Maggie Hassan was shared by a Hassan staffer.
Parisi shared some thoughts about what it meant to him to have the WTC steel attached to a monument in town.
“The steel to me is the highlight of the monument,” Parisi said. “We had the steel in the station central and just to touch it was an emotional feeling.”
Sapienza said he was there on behalf of all FDNY firefighters, and said the monument will help future generations remember the sacrifice of 343 firefighters, more than 3,000 civilians and hundreds more firefighters who succumbed to illnesses contracted by being at ground zero.
He said it was his hope the monument would stand for over 100 years and that its significance would remain important to future cultures.
Hargreaves gave thanks to all 17 members of the committee, and a special thanks to Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Emanuelson. Emanuelson, in turn, gifted Hargreaves with a book titled “What do you do with an idea?” — a reference to Hargreave’s tendency to come up with the ideas for the committee to work on, including this one.
“The whole work that the entire committee did … really just epitomized what kind of community Salem is,” Emanuelson told the Union Leader.
Sen. Chuck Morse was present for the ceremony. He said folks in town are talking about how beautiful the monument is.
The ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting, benediction and a moment of silence with a bagpipe performance of "Amazing Grace" by Fire Investigator Chris Wyman.
After the evening ceremony, an old fire house adjacent to the memorial, which contains an old Salem fire carriage and historical exhibits, was open to the public.