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Monument to police, firefighters almost ready

May 21, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

It's been a long time coming, but soon a very special monument for some very special people will be dedicated at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park.

Originally designed for law enforcement officers and firefighters, the monument will now honor people who have demonstrated outstanding service and commitment to the community.

"We've had to wait for several reasons," said Rick Freeman, Cedar Lawn vice president. "One problem was getting a piece of granite big enough with no veins in it."

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The monument will be seven feet tall and six feet wide in dark red carnelian granite, Freeman said. The granite comes from Minnesota.

A dedication is being tentatively planned for the end of June. Invited guests include the governor of Maryland, U.S. representatives and local lawmakers.

The huge 3 by 5 foot bronze relief plaque portrays firefighters, police officers and ambulance personnel in the performance of their duties.

Also, Freeman was hoping to have a lot of names on the side plaques before it is actually mounted on the monument. More names can be added later, Freeman said.

Already there are 10 or 12 names that will be on the huge monument at the rear of Cedar Lawn.

"Each nameplate will cost about $125 to put on the memorial," Freeman said.

The idea for the monument came following a 1993 tragedy when a young Clear Spring firefighter lost his life in an accident and was buried at Cedar Lawn.

Eric Russell's memory will be preserved on the monument along with others who have given of themselves to others.

And it's not just for those who have fallen in the line of duty, Freeman said.

"These people spent their lives giving to their communities and now we are going to give back to them," he said.

Maryland State Police Trooper First Class Jay Benedict, who died in 1995, also will have his name on the monument.

There is no requirement that the people whose names are on the plaque must be buried at Cedar Lawn. But Freeman said he is developing a special area of plots around the new memorial especially for people who meet the criteria for the monument.

There are two permanent granite benches in front of the monument, one dedicated to Russell and the other to Benedict.

For information, call 301-733-6682.

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