Botsford Firefighters Continue Honoring 9/11 With New Permanent Memorial
Ten years ago, the members of Botsford Fire Rescue (BFR) unveiled a mural that had been painted on the northern side of the fire station that has served as a permanent memorial to those who died on 9/11.
Earlier this month the fire company’s members again remembered 9/11, this time with two observations.
On Saturday, September 11, members of the company were once again in front of their station when an estimated 3,000 motorcycles were driven past them as part of this year’s CT United Ride. Botsford firefighters have staged the front of their firehouse with banners and American flags each year as the riders honoring all who were lost and raising funds to help those affected by the attacks passed through town.
Two nights later a private event inside the firehouse celebrated the unveiling of another effort to further memorialize those who died on 9/11.
BFR Chief Engineer William Swenson and Newtown artist Donna Ball have created a series of five mosaics, which were installed in the newly refurbished foyer of the South Main Street firehouse. Three were done over last winter and installed earlier this year, but two additional ones were created ahead of the 20th anniversary of the attacks in 2021.
One of the new mosaics included the number 343, the number of firefighters killed that day; the skyline of New York City with the Twin Towers; and the date 9-11-2001. A second mosaic frames a famous quote attributed to the late write Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, himself a former volunteer firefighter and supporter of the volunteer fire service. The quote, “I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man, than a firetruck,” was first said by a character in the author’s 1959 novel God Bless You, Mr Rosewater. Vonnegut himself offered a paraphrased version in 2001 when asked to comment on the events of 9/11.
The mosaic in Botsford celebrates the original quote.
Five Mosaics In All
The two new pieces complement three similar ones that were created earlier this year, also by Swenson and Ball. The first set of mosaics depict two engines and the tanker truck that are part of the company’s apparatus.
The pair worked during the winter of 2021-21 to create those first works. Each mosaic incorporates 1,378 tiles, Ball said. Each work measures approximately two feet tall by four feet wide.
After unveiling the truck mosaics, the pair started thinking ahead, to the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
BFR Chief Andrew White recently told The Newtown Bee that Ball and Swenson “brought the idea to the company, and we told them to run with it,” he said of the decision to add more mosaics to the new collection.
“We gave them free reign,” he added.
Ball and Swenson have been working on mosaic art projects since the beginning of COVID-19, including the front window installation of “Diner Art” at Jacqueline’s restaurant in Bethel, a series of two-dimensional pattern images for the interior booths, and a series of trays and upcycled tables for sale.
Ball creates the patterns on Photoshop. Swenson then follows the intricate patterns, laying out the colored tiles in the order they will be laid. Ball then affixes the tiles to the cement board. The two then work together to paint and cut the frames, and grout the finished pieces.
BFR members gathered on Monday, September 13, for a brief unveiling ceremony of the 9/11 mosaics. They were joined by a small group of family members and friends.
The art in Botsford, according to Ball, not only honors those lost in the attacks 20 years ago, it “is also intended to honor the past, present, and future of the Botsford Fire company, whose members continue to selflessly devote their time, energy, strength, and compassion to the citizens of Newtown.”
Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.