, Salem, MA

Special Report

September 7, 2011

In a piece of steel, Salem firefighters make a connection


If Brophy is the department's artist, then Ataide, 32, is its unofficial historian, collecting old photos and newspaper articles about the Salem Fire Department. But Ataide, who has been with the department for almost four years, didn't want the memorial to focus exclusively on firefighters.

"I tried to stay away from the number 343," Ataide said, referring to how many firefighters died on Sept. 11. "There were many people who died that day, not just the firefighters. ... (The memorial) is for everyone."

It is why the plaque will refer to what happened in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. Ataide hopes it draws the attention of some of the crowds headed to Salem this fall for the city's annual Haunted Happenings festivities.

Its location makes the memorial one of the more conspicuous local remembrances. In Peabody, the city built a small memorial park in a quiet neighborhood off Route 114. On Grandview Avenue, it is one door down from the former home of Janis Lasden and honors Lasden and Christine Barbuto of West Peabody. Both were aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.

Outside the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers is a bench dedicated to the memory of former resident Karen Martin, a flight attendant on Flight 11. Inside, a rocking chair in the library's children's room bears her name.

In Salem, motorists on Highland Avenue drive by a memorial erected a day after the attacks. Put there by a construction crew working at the Market Basket site, two granite rectangular blocks rise from the small grassy hill beside the road.

The location makes the display hard to get to, which will not be the case beside the fire station. To receive the steel from the Port Authority, Ataide had to demonstrate that the public would have access to it.

The deep ties people have to that day a decade ago was evident whenever someone visited Chief David Cody's office, the steel's temporary home while the memorial site was being prepared. The first thing everyone did was touch it.

The reaction surprised the chief and Ataide, as well.

"I never really knew people needed that connection," he said.

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