Honoring our fallen heroes

Bishop Henning delivers invocation at annual memorial to local firefighters who’ve died in the line of duty


EXETER — Bishop Richard G. Henning, whose father was a New York City firefighter, delivered the invocation and some personal remarks on Saturday, May 11, during an annual memorial in honor of the state’s fallen firefighters at the Rhode Island Firefighters Memorial on the campus of the Fire Academy.
“I consider this event really, in some sense, closest to my heart, and most honorable,” Bishop Henning said. “Many of you may know that I have a family connection to the FDNY that goes back a long way, and so I have the deepest respect and gratitude for this mission.”
“This is not just a job, it’s a calling,” he said, asserting that first responders embody a sense of service to community and love of neighbor to a particularly intense degree. “It’s a service of community and of God as you seek to protect families, lives and community in this family of the fire department.”
A procession led by the Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums Band concluded with the presentation of a wreath at the foot of the Memorial.
Gregg Amore, secretary of state, in his remarks, noted his deep emotional ties to the fire departments of Rhode Island, calling to mind a memory of having been saved from a burning tenement building by a firefighter as a child.
“I’ll never forget that day, or that moment, or the bravery of that man who I would never see again,” Amore said.
“We all have a connection to the service and sacrifice of the people of the fire service,” Amore continued. “It is an incredible honor to bring the greetings, acknowledgement, and gratitude of the state of Rhode Island to everyone here, especially those who have fallen…and to their families.”

The keynote speaker was retired deputy chief Kevin D. Quinn of Union Fire District.
“Being a firefighter requires countless hours of training, physical and mental endurance, and a commitment of continuous learning,” Quinn said. “Serving as a firefighter…not only shapes individuals, but also empowers one to make a significant difference in the lives of those they serve.”
He said that firefighters, volunteer and career, embody the very essence of selflessness, putting the safety and wellbeing of others before their own.
“Today, we honor our Rhode Island fallen heroes. May we never forget the sacrifices of our firefighters, and may their legacy continue to inspire future generations to answer the call of duty with courage, integrity and selflessness,” Quinn said. “Celebrate their resolve as we honor the bravery and mourn those who have fallen, but also to celebrate their lives, their courage and enduring legacy.”
During the ceremony, the names of all firefighters across the Ocean State who were recorded as having died in the line of duty since the Rhode Island fire department was established were read aloud. At the reading of each name, the official bell at the fire academy was rung in their honor. After the ceremony, several new names were added to the memorial.
“It’s a calling. It’s almost something you have to do,” said Tom Walden.
Walden has served as both a career and volunteer firefighter for 55 years, working for fire departments in Greenville, Smithfield, Providence and, most recently, Foster, as well as an ambulance for Foster.
“It’s a very tight organization. They’re all very dedicated to one another, we support one another. It’s a very important support organization to have, because of the many things we go through, and we see,” Walden said.