RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Originally created to remember our nation’s military veterans, Memorial Day has also become a day to remember the uniformed emergency first responders who keep our communities safe.
“One of the things that came out of 9/11 was that we began to realize that our nation’s first responders are our first line of defense in a new kind of war,” said Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison.
In their honor, the Portsmouth Fire Department will have its annual Firefighter Memorial ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on May 28 at the Portsmouth station on Gallia Street. The memorial ceremony usually includes and invocation and color guard, and brief comments by featured speakers.
The firefighter’s monument outside of the Portsmouth Fire Station was built in the 1980s, and has the names of Portsmouth firefighters who died in service. The last was Portsmouth firefighter David Kehoe and New Boston firefighter Virgil Ross (who was assisting the Portsmouth fire department); they both died fighting a fire at Distel Furniture on Chillicothe Street, on March 6, 1932.
“Those guys paid the ultimate sacrifice, and I think that’s the whole concept of our remembrance being done on Memorial Day,” Raison said.
The monument also has the names of Portsmouth firefighters who have retired and passed away.
“There’s been some discussion that maybe we should move to another day, but I don’t think we should. I don’t think we take anything away from veterans. Most of the guys in the department are veterans.”
He said there are many names of retired firefighters that still have not been added to the monument because there isn’t enough room for them all. The department would like to someday raise money to expand the monument to fit them all.
The Portsmouth Fire Department will also participate in the New Boston Daymar First Responder Parade on May 24, and the Portsmouth Memorial Day Parade from Tracy Park to Greenlawn Cemetery on May 28. Raison said the department is excited to bring out its old convertible Mac fire engine, which sat broken in the garage for several years until fireman Brandon Reinhart volunteered to get it running again.
“We used to give kids rides around the block in it, and different events like that. We’re going to be able to do that again, and I’m excited about it,” Raison said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.