At last, for our fallen heroes - a fitting memorial

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A memorial in Franklin Square park honors police and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. An organization is raising money to build a new memorial. Daily News Staff / Morgan Zalot

T HE DEATHS of two firefighters earlier this month reminded Tim McShea of the importance of his decadelong grass-roots effort to have a permanent memorial built for police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Now, after a series of fits and starts, plans are under way to build a memorial at the site of the Living Flame Memorial, erected in 1976 near the northeast corner of Franklin Square at 6th and Race streets.

"It's been a tough few weeks," said McShea, vice president of the firefighters' union Local 22, referring to the deaths of Lt. Daniel Sweeney and Capt. Robert Neary. "It will be a great tribute to those who lose lives in the line of duty."

In September 2011, McShea and others established the Fallen Heroes Memorial Fund and announced a design competition. On Thursday, they'll announce the winning design out of 21 submitted by area architectural firms.

The Fallen Heroes Memorial Fund is holding a fundraiser Sunday starting at 2 p.m. on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, between 16th and 18th streets. The block party will be hosted jointly by Tir Na Nog and Con Murphy's.

They're not sure yet how much the memorial will cost, but Bob Bedard, a spokesman for the fund who helped spearhead the effort, said that their goal is to raise $1 million. Supporters can donate at fallenheroesmemorialfund.org.

"It's an important part of the city's history, and it's one of the only combined fire and police memorials in the country," said John Wilson, director of Historic Philadelphia, which manages Franklin Square. "You can actually tell a story . . . and have a conversation about what the memorial is and why it's important."

Bob Ballentine, recording secretary for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, who helped get the memorial plans off the ground, said he hopes that it will comfort the fallen's survivors. "It means everything," he said. "We look forward to having our survivors visit the new memorial and know we will never forget their loved ones who passed away."

 


Contact Morgan Zalot at 215-854-5928 or zalotm@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @morganzalot. Read her blog PhillyConfidential.com.