The long-awaited Firefighters Memorial was unveiled Thursday afternoon at the Wheeling Waterfront.
The three-quarter life-size statue is in honor of all ten Wheeling firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty.
One family in particular was in the front row, having lost their husband and father. They gathered at 1:30 this afternoon, on the lawn outside Wesbanco Arena.
The statue was hidden by a red curtain as the ceremony began. Ten firefighters have died in the line of duty since 1868 in Wheeling.
The one in recent history, October 29, 1991, was Assistant Chief Robert Foster.
“I was a young man in the fire department at the time so it was a very awakening experience for me to actually have that realization of what danger we do put ourselves in,” said Wheeling Fire Chief, Larry Helms.
“Today was about the Foster family being able to see this memorial completed, being able to remember their husband, their dad, their brother,” said Bob Heldreth.
“I am so happy that they’re having this memorial for my husband. He was a wonderful person and I hope he will never be forgotten. We miss him dearly,” said Peggy Foster.
“This ceremony is just wonderful. It’s brought it all back. I can see my dad so clearly. And he would be so proud of this so thank you so much,” said Robert Foster Jr.
“It’s a very sad day but we are very appreciative for the City of Wheeling Fire Department and everybody who helped make this come true,” said Chuck Foster.
Wheeling Hospital was the major contributor for the project. Their CEO said he knew these firefighters personally.
“So we get to see a lot more of them than most people do. They’re in and out of our hospital and our emergency room constantly,” said Ron Violi of Wheeling Hospital.
The sculpture unveiled Thursday is one of many identical ones across the nation.
“They say he has a weathered look of concern on his face and he is actually not a fallen firefighter but is remembering his brothers,” said Heldreth.