Greenwich Unveils New September 11 Tribute to Heroes

By Barbara Heins Greenwich Patch

The Greenwich Police Department unveiled its September 11 memorial Saturday morning — a custom-painted Harley Davidson that includes the names of 28 people with ties to Greenwich, who were killed during the terrorist attacks in 2001.

There is much symbolism of the custom-paint design, Police Chief James Heavey said. In addition to the 28 names painted in gold-leaf on the front fender, there are three silver stars on one side of the fender to memorialize the three Greenwich Police officers killed in the line duty, Heavey said.

The motorcycle was awarded to the department in September 2011 in recognition of the department’s Motor Unit’s continued participation in the annual America’s 911 Foundation motorcycle ride to all three crash sites in Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York City.

Since the Motor Unit received the Harley, officers have been working with Southington airbrush artist Jaime Chasse on the design. “Officer Dave Stewart and I have been working on it, exchanging ideas for more than a year,” Chasse said.

Once the design was finalized, the motorcycle was brought up to Chasse’s Explicit Airbrush shop in Southington where it was disassembled, each part painted and then reassembled, Chasse explained.

The money to pay for all of that work was raised through some donations, but primarily during a benefit shopping day organized by Charles Santora, manager of the Fairway Market in Stamford.

“Mr. Santora was great. (Retired Lt.) Tommy (Keegan) called him, told him what we were doing and his response was ‘What do you need?’,” said Sgt. Brent Reeves, president of the department’s union, the Silver Shield Association (SSA).

Last week, Keegan told Greenwich Patch that the SSA wanted to have a more accessible memorial to those Greenwich residents who perished during the September 11 terrorists attacks. There is a memorial at Great Captain’s Island, which overlooks the Manhattan skyline. However, it is accessible only during the Greenwich summer beach season when the town ferries run to the island.

The Harley-Davidson cruising bike will be on display in the lobby of police headquarters.

According to the Motor Unit Sgt. John Sluzarz, it also will be used for in-school demonstrations and lectures at Greenwich schools about the historical significance of September 11.

Heavey explained that the significance of that day cannot be lost on younger generations. “I have two-pre-teen-aged kids … to explain to them what happened that day … this is like our generation’s Pearl Harbor. You remember where you were that day,” Heavey said.

And, dependent upon the weather, the motorcycle may be used to lead off the 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday, March 23, Slusarz said.

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