Sunday, May 29, 2011


 The Four Bronze Firefighters
(Hawaiian Odysseus photo)

Tired and dazed from having worked an overnight shift, riding a bus from Redmond to Seattle for approximately 40 minutes, and then having to abruptly wake up from a catnap that ended up deeper than an untapped artesian well, I found myself aimlessly wandering, looking for a coffee shop where I could get a "Wake Me Up, PLEASE!!!" beverage and maybe draft a post for my blog.  

I came to a picturesque block called Occidental Park, a 0.6 acre of bricked walkway, a stand of trees that dared urban sprawl to cross the proverbial saber-drawn line in the sand,  and a scattering of outdoor art in the Pioneer Square District of Seattle.  In fact, the southern portion--an outdoor mall of sorts--is comprised of several art galleries.

What caught my eye were these four life-sized bronze statues of firemen.  At first, they looked so real because of the dynamic action pose assumed by each entity.  

(Hawaiian Odysseus photo)

I was compelled to approach each figure for a closer look.  Now, I'm 5'-11" with a husky build.  The two firefighters that were standing were eye to eye with me and solidly built.  I tapped each of the four, partly in disbelief that they were inanimate objects and partly for a sense of connection to the heroic men they symbolized. 

(Hawaiian Odysseus photo)

The artistic attention to detail was awesome.  Using the magic of Google, I learned the artist's name--Hai Ying Wu. Wu, an internationally acclaimed artist from the University of Washington School of Arts, worked with a team of firemen to research, design, and sculpt the bronze figures.  Slabs of granite along the perimeter of these statues depict pieces of a crumbled building.  Wu's words appear on one of the granite blocks:

"Represented realistically yet with exaggerated gestures to emphasize the intensity of the battle in which they are engaged."

(Hawaiian Odysseus photo)

Although the memorial was inspired by the heroic passing of four firemen during a warehouse fire in the Chinatown/International District of Seattle in 1995, it is a lasting tribute to the thirty-one firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty since the Seattle Fire Department's genesis in 1889.

(Hawaiian Odysseus photo)

So, while I may not have been able to make it to Arlington Cemetery (or any cemetery for that matter, civilian or military) on this date, I nevertheless had the privilege and opportunity to honor men of valor who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.  

With great deference to and respect for the  patriots of 9/11, it is with great civil and humanitarian pride that I salute our local fallen firefighters. 

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