Planting Strength and Hope for the Future in Honor of a Fallen Hero of the Past Oak Tree Dedication Ceremony held in honor of Lieutenant Derrick Harvey ByMessage 1 of 1 , May 1, 2004View Source
Planting Strength and Hope for the Future in Honor of a Fallen Hero of the Past
Oak Tree Dedication Ceremony held in honor of Lieutenant Derrick Harvey
By Francis Goldshmidfrancisthetalkingintern@...
The Logan TIMES~Independent
Friday was Arbor Day-It was also a day remembrance of one of Logan's fallen firefighters: Lieutenant Derrick Harvey. A firefighter from Engine company 72 in Logan, he received severe, fatal injuries during a fire, which had occurred at 9th St. and Lindley Ave. in January. In honor of his memory and his service to the community, a Shingle Oak tree was planted at the traffic island located at Lindley Ave. and Old York Rd. in a dedication event organized and run by this very news source, in conjunction with the Let's Love Logan Community Association (LLLCA). Also present were Michael Hayward and Sonya Bryant, chair and co-chair of the LLLCA, Logan Hope (a private Christian school located on 13th St.), students from the Birney Elementary School, and the Thurgood Mashall School. Presiding over the event was the editor of the Logan TIMES~Independent, D. Michael Blackie, who began with opening remarks, saying that as much as he gave to our community, it was only fitting for this tree to be given, in his memory, back to the community.
Once the opening ceremonies were completed, members of the community and of the fire house came up to speak to the crowd, as the family of Lieutenant Harvey surrounded the oak. The Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department, Harold Hairston, came up to the podium to read a touching letter of thanks he had received from the family of Lt. Harvey, which had thanked the Commissioner for his support and assistance. However, more importantly, was the poem attached to the letter, written by Sierra Smith, age 11, the daughter of the fallen firefighter, entitled "I Miss You." Hairston read it to the crowd, as tears filled the eyes of the family members of the deceased hero: "Words could not express how much I miss you, your laugh, your smile"I wish you could hold me, love me,But first I have to cry,I will always miss you, I will always love you."
Next to speak was Deputy Commissioner Lloyd Ayers, whose moving speech about how the life of this community hero was similar to that of the oak tree made everyone present hush in reflection. He said that the "oak tree is known for its strength," for its "sinew, [for] the fact that they are everlasting, [for how] they protect humans." It is this very same "protection, provision, [and] life-giving oxygen" which Lieutenant Harvey had provided for the community in which he served. At this honorable comparison, members of Harvey's family began to weep a little.
Next, after Hayward and Bryant stood and spoke on behalf of the LLLCA, saying to the family that they "share in your grief as we, too, have lost a hero," Michael Candelori (a current staff writer for the Logan TIMES) and Jerome B. Wright III (former staff writer), stood up to deliver their thoughts on this man's life. Back in January, they had seen the helicopters in the sky as they were coming to school and they drove to that sight, only to discover a fire, the very same one in which Lieutenant Harvey had died, and some weeping firefighters standing by the side of it. They were not only the first and only media group on the ground, but they were the last ones to see the firefighter alive before he was taken into an ambulance.
Finally, after Captain Klink of Engine 72 had read the plaque that was to be placed at the foot of the tree, Blackie came up for closing remarks which were hopeful for the future of this single planting: "[This is] the beginning of [the] transformation of this traffic island,what's currently here is not befitting a memorial." He expressed his sincere desires for the betterment of Logan by having the traffic island eventually changed into a "community greenspace" with new benches and much less concrete. As the ceremony came to an end, Bryant was called up to offer a closing blessing, in which these hopes for the future, in connection to the valor of this hero of the past, were solidified.