A memorial to the first responders who have served and have died in the line of duty is long overdue in Lebanon County, according to one lifelong volunteer.
That’s why Bruce Daub has proposed a plan to install a Lebanon County First Responders Memorial to “honor our local heroes who serve us every day, putting their lives on the line, as well as those who have lost their lives in the Line of Duty.”
“First responders really don’t get much recognition for what they do,” he says. “And there’s no state memorial for first responders in Pennsylvania.”
For Daub, service has been a lifelong mission.
He started riding with his parents, who volunteered with Jonestown Ambulance, when he was 16, “just to see what it was like,” he says. When he turned 18, he joined Lebanon’s First Aid & Safety Patrol, “and I’ve been with them ever since.”
Now 71, Daub says he has plenty of stories to share – and it bothers him that Lebanon County doesn’t already have a memorial in place.
In fact, he notes, Pennsylvania and Hawaii are the only two states in the nation without first-responder memorials – something he learned after visiting a memorial in Cape May, New Jersey, and doing some research at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park, which is located on the campus of the National Emergency Training Center at the U.S. National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
“It’s a pretty dangerous job,” Daub says, “and first responders ought to be honored for what they’re doing.”
At present, it looks like the memorial is moving forward, with a possible site at proposed new facilities for the Lebanon County Department of Emergency Services at 1821 Cornwall Road in North Cornwall Township.
County Commissioners recently approved a $1.3 million land purchase for construction of the new 911 Communications Center. The county currently houses a 911 call center in the basement of the County Courthouse, a situation county officials have said is both inconvenient and dangerous.
“They said they’d give us some land in front of their new building,” Daub says. He’s hopeful the memorial can break ground next year and be completed in 2022.
The committee is already discussing ideas for a groundbreaking ceremony – he envisions having relatives of people who died in the line of duty, rather than politicians, wielding the shovels, he says — and an eventual unveiling.
Daub says he contacted state Rep. Frank Ryan, who expressed support for the proposal and garnered additional support from local state Reps. Russ Diamond and Sue Helm, and state Sen. Dave Arnold. “From what Frank told me, they’re all behind this,” Daub says.
Ryan said in an email Monday that he’s “very supportive of the project.”
Lebanon County is “extremely fortunate” to have a robust community of first responders, he wrote. “I am proud to support the efforts of building a First Responders memorial in Lebanon County. My thanks to Bruce Daub for his leadership for such a great cause.”
County Commissioners chairman Robert J. Phillips could not be reached for comment by publication time.
Organizers have estimated the cost of the project at $250,000, Daub says, and the committee will be looking into grant opportunities next year. They’ll also be sending out letters for financial assistance to local businesses and agencies, he says, and they’re planning to sell bricks and paver stones that can be engraved and placed at the site to help raise funds for construction.
The statue, which was conceived by Daub and his daughter, Eileen, will features bronze statues of a firefighter, a police officer, an EMT, a dispatcher and a search-and-rescue dog. Statues will be nearly life-size – four to five feet tall, he says – and will be surrounded by some sort of memorial structure that includes a five-sided pillar with plaques where first responders who have died in the line of duty can be named. The base of the memorial “is hopefully going to be in the shape of Lebanon County,” Daub says.
The size of the memorial depends “on how much land the county gives us,” he says.
Eileen Daub – Bruce Daub’s daughter and secretary for the committee – says she believes there have been as many as 20 life-of-duty deaths in Lebanon County, and her father says committee member Pat Rhen is putting together some research on the subject.
That includes a police chief who was killed back in 1890 in Lebanon, Daub says, and some firefighters who were killed in action in the 1930s and ’50s.
There has already been community support for the project on Facebook, Daub says.
The committee is hoping to get more public involvement, however, and invites interested people to attend their next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at Friendship Fire Company, 610 S 2nd St.
“We do need help,” he says.
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