Rocky Mount and Franklin County citizens honored and gave a heartfelt thank you to their first responders — those currently serving and those who have fallen in the line of duty — with Saturday’s dedication of a memorial that sits adjacent to the Rocky Mount Fire Department.
The Rocky Mount-Franklin County First Responders Memorial is the second of two projects born from a tragic day in July 2010.
On that date Rocky Mount Fire Chief Posey Dillon and Danny Altice, a former chief of the department, lost their lives in a wreck while responding to an emergency call.
The memorial was dedicated one day after the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C. and in Pennsylvania.
Recently–elected Boones Mill Mayor Victor Conner recalled being serviced by emergency personnel when he suffered a heart attack.
Supervisor Ronnie Thompson, who once served with Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said first responders deserve the community’s gratitude.
“You’ve got these dedicated men and women that go out every day to keep us safe,” he said. “Money can’t pay that.''
The memorial is a three-sided structure that features the portraits of fallen first responders — 12 individual and one composite — with one to be added in the near future.
Honored are a deputy with the United States Marshals Service, two deputies with the sheriff’s office, a former county sheriff, an officer with the town’s police department and firefighters from Glade Hill, Boones Mill and Rocky Mount, including Dillon and Altice.
A Bible verse from the Gospel of John, “Greater love has no one than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,’’ introduces viewers to those who have fallen.
A second side of the memorial displays firefighter, police and emergency personnel emblems and a third side shows artwork by Freda Nichols — the three branches of first responders standing together as one.
Bricks honoring the names of current, past and deceased first responders line a walkway leading to the memorial as does as does a sign explaining its purpose: “(The memorial) is dedicated to remember the sacrifices of our first responders who have died in the line of duty. May we ever strive to be a community worthy of their efforts.’’
Each of the individuals honored on the memorial was remembered with a moment of silence preceded by the tolling of a fire bell that sits atop a vintage Rocky Mount fire engine by designed family members.
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