Just a few feet from where one of Hamilton County’s firefighters lost his life will be a terraced memorial that honors the lives of those who have died in the line of duty. But before a Hamilton County Fallen Firefighters Memorial can pay tribute to those who put their lives on the line for others, the collective fire departments in Hamilton County must raise $275,000.
Local 4416 President Tony Murray was active in the Riverwalk Committee when discussions began on the memorial. After visiting the memorials in South Bend and Elkhart, Murray knew Hamilton County needed its own tribute.
“In 2006 both departments unveiled their memorials,” he said. “It was really appealing the setting it created.”
Murray said the Riverwalk Committee was “really receptive to the idea” and Hamilton County Council Member Steve Schwartz and Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Dillinger got behind the project.
“I’m not aware of any other county-wide memorials,” Murray said. “It’s really meaningful.”
Noblesville Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Michael Cook said the idea began as just a park bench but evolved into a memorial.
“We worked on it but the economy went bad. It slowed our project down and the Riverwalk down,” he said.
The park-like setting of the memorial is designed by Hittle Landscaping and includes two key items: a piece of metal beam from the World Trade Center in New York City and a sculpture of a grieving firefighter by Arizona sculptor Nicholas Wilson.
“We’re really happy with Hittle’s design,” Cook said.
“After Sept. 11 we became aware the port authority in New Jersey was releasing steel beams for worthy organizations,” Murray said.
Cook said the bronze statue takes a year to create and the fund must pay a $30,000 down payment before Wilson begins its construction.
“We want to create and include a memorial for Sept. 11. It’s such a profound event in our country’s history. We pause each year to remember,” Murray said. “We must never forget our members who gave their lives. It’s fitting to memorialize our firefighters and create a place to integrate the World Trade Center beam.”
Landscaping and tribute benches engraved with the names of the fallen will allow visitors to stop for quiet reflection. Schwartz has been with the committee for the entire journey and is excited to see the project reach this phase.
“It will enhance Riverwalk,” he said. “It will make it more of a destination that it already is.”
Schwartz said the construction of the memorial will be done in conjunction with phase III of the Riverwalk.
“It will be in there in for a temporary basis until Riverwalk is completed,” he said.
The firefighters have partnered with the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Hamilton County Artists Association on the project. The HCAA is providing its tax deductible status to accept donations with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the memorial. Those interested in donating can visit www.hcfallenfirefightersmemorial.org, e-mail email@example.com or call 773-8805. Checks made out to HCAA/Fallen Firefighters Memorial can be mailed to 399 S. 14th St., Noblesville 46060.
“In working with these firefighters on this project, they have been so appreciative of our support. But I keep telling them — you save lives. You help people in their darkest hours. Nothing compares to that,” HCCVB Executive Director Brenda Myers said. “This memorial is not just a monument to fallen firefighters, but a place of respite for the weary. The design allows for people to pause and reflect. It will be a wonderful addition to the county and downtown Noblesville.”
The collective fire departments of Hamilton County will gather to kick-off a campaign to raise $275,000 to build a memorial at the Hamilton County Judicial Center overlooking the White River in historic downtown Noblesville. The event is 4 to 5 p.m. Oct. 13.