Renewed remembrance: Lawrence firefighters 9/11 mural restored, ready for re-dedication

By Jill Harmacinski Eagle Tribune

Jimmy Flynn of the Lawrence Fire Department and Firefighter Timmy Boutin look at the 9-11 mural that was restored this summer, Photo Amy Sweeney

Jimmy Flynn of the Lawrence Fire Department and Firefighter Timmy Boutin look at the 9-11 mural that was restored this summer, Photo Amy Sweeney

LAWRENCE, MA — In April, faded by time, wind and weather, the giant mural that memorializes firefighters who gave their lives at Ground Zero was temporarily removed from a cement wall next to a city firehouse on South Broadway.

Now, four months later, with bold, refreshed colors visible after 90 hours of repair and painting, the mural of remembrance is nearly ready to be re-dedicated.

Firefighters will officially unveil the mural again on Thursday, September 11, 2014, the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

“Everyone is welcome to attend,” said Lt. James Flynn, a 30-year Lawrence Fire Department veteran who led the effort to restore the 9-11 mural.

Firefighters are looking for the public’s help offsetting costs associated with the latest repair and establishing a revolving fund they can use in the future.

“We want to maintain this every year now. So that’s why we need donations,” Flynn said.

The 20-foot-long, 8-foot-high mural next to the Ladder 4 firehouse, just before the Falls Bridge, was erected in 2001. In May 2006, the painted mural was taken down and underwent its first repair. But the mural was back up by September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the attacks.

On April 8, a crew of Lawrence firefighters removed the mural, which is painted on 4-by-8-foot sheets of fiberglass and resins, and brought the pieces to Engine 6 on Howard Street for safe keeping.

Over the summer, Smoky of Smoky’s Signs of Lawrence, worked for 90 hours to repair and restore the mural. Flynn was at his side.

Added to the mural this summer was a painted Boston Fire Department patch, which remembers Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy, two Boston firefighters killed March 26 in a basement fire on Beacon Street in that city.

In addition to firefighters killed at Ground Zero on 9-11 and now the fallen Boston firefighters, the mural also remembers the Worcester 6, six Worcester firefighters killed in a cold storage warehouse inferno on Dec. 3, 1999. Those Worcester firefighters were Paul Brotherton, Jeremiah Lucey, Joseph McGuirk, Timothy Jackson Sr., Thomas Spencer and James “Jay” Lyons.

Thirteen years ago, the mural was initially put up on the cement wall after firefighters spotted two men, David Hatch and Joseph Casale, painting a building near Ladder 4. They approached the men and asked if they could paint the wall next to Ladder 4 to provide a good background for the mural. Hatch and Casale said if the firefighters provided the paint, they’d paint the wall at no cost.

The late Ron Gagnon, a well-known general contractor, then paid the $10,000 cost of painting the mural.

Gagnon, who died in 2005, is remembered on the mural as well.

On September 11, the remembrance ceremony and mural re-dedication will be held at Ladder 4 at 9 a.m. Coffee and light refreshments will be served, Flynn said.

HOW TO DONATE

Donations for the mural restoration fund can be addressed and sent to: Local 146 Mural Restoration, Engine 6, 480 Howard St., Lawrence, MA, 01841.

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