No monument honors emergency personnel

July 25, 1997


Staff Writer

The huge bronze and granite monument at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park is for departed heroes, but the dedication service Friday was for the living.

The monument is seven feet tall and six feet wide made of dark red carnelian granite from Minnesota.

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

"The sacrifices are often forgotten," said Hagerstown Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker. "This memorial is very special to those of us who chose a life of service to our fellow man."

Geoff and Rick Freeman, president and vice president of Cedar Lawn, came up with the idea for the monument following the accidental death in 1993 of a young Clear Spring firefighter who is buried at the cemetery.


Eric Russell's memory is 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.

Maryland State Police Trooper First Class Jay Benedict, who died from an illness in 1995, also has 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 has developed a special area of plots around the new memorial especially for people who meet the criteria for the monument.

"We got plots there because of this memorial," said Hagerstown Fire Policeman William Dennis and his wife, Alice, who attended the ceremony Friday. "It's important to honor our volunteers."

Government officials and representatives from police, fire and rescue organizations attended the dedication.

"This is a time to be proud of our profession," said Hagerstown Police Chief Dale Jones. "This memorial gives us the enthusiasm to go on."

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook presented Eric Freeman with a county flag to fly at the memorial.

The monument "recognizes our living heroes and gives us the ability to say thanks while they're here to hear it," said Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Casper Taylor, who gave the keynote address.

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

There also are three permanent granite benches in front of the monument, one dedicated to Russell, another to Benedict and the third to Alan Whicher, a Secret Service agent killed in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Whicher's mother, Bette, lives in Boonsboro.

For information about the memorial, call 301-733-6682.

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