Salem Firefighters Observe Memorial Sunday

June 14, 2013

by Gloria Lavoie

On the second Sunday each June, the Salem Firefighters honor deceased members of the Salem Fire Department.  They gather at Pine Grove Cemetery at the Firefighter Memorial Monument that was erected in 1963.  “We remember our deceased firefighters and recall their commitment and service to us, to each other, and the community,” said Fire Chief Kevin Breen.  “In doing so,” he continued, “we reflect upon what is perhaps most important about being a member of the Salem Fire Department.  It is the opportunity to serve others in their time of need.”

The Firefighter Honor Guard presented the colors while Firefighters stood at attention and a crowd of onlookers observed the brief ceremony.  Chief Kevin Breen read the Firefighters’ Pledge and then introduced and recognized Ms. Eleanor Foster and her grandson Philip as they came forward to place flowers in honor of Ms. Foster’s father, Firefighter Charles Lester Kimball.  “He made the ultimate sacrifice when he died in the line of duty in 1954,” stated Chief Breen.

Foster, a lifelong resident of Salem attends the memorial ceremony every year.  “My Grandson Phillip always puts a geranium at the monument when they call the names.”  She explained how her father lost his life, “It was 1954.  I was in college at the time and he was fighting a fire in North Salem.  A barn was struck by lightning and was on fire and it collapsed.”

From the platform of the permanent memorial, Chief Breen read the list of names of over 75 deceased members of the Fire Department.  These names are etched upon the side of the granite obelisk Firefighter memorial at the cemetery.  Retired Manchester Fire Captain Skip Hebert played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.  Christa Blair and Kenneth Kayabyab performed taps, using a custom of sounding the call with two buglers standing at some distance apart to achieve an echo effect.

In closing, Chief Breen said, “I would like to thank our guests, our retirees, our firefighters and especially our families for supporting us on this day of remembrance.”  He invited attendees back to Central Fire Station for breakfast.

After the ceremony, over 20 retired Salem Firefighters gathered on the platform for a group photo.  Former Chief William Kingdon said, “It’s a really nice memorial to the fellows who have passed on.”