It’s taken nearly ten years, but on Sunday ground was finally broken on a memorial to victims of the Station Nightclub fire.
Wearing pink helmets and carrying child-size shovels, survivors and relatives of the Station fire victims broke ground on a new park where the nightclub once stood.
Gina Russo, president of the Station Fire Memorial Fund, thanked former property owner Raymond Villanova for donating the land. "He finally honored us by giving us this land. So we thank him. We don’t want him to be forgotten on this day because he’s the reason we’re getting ready to build our memorial."
The event drew not one, but two Rhode Island governors.
Governor Lincoln Chafee acknowledged the pain that still haunts the victims’ families a decade later. "To those whose lives have been forever changed by what occurred at this place I know that mere words will be of little comfort. I know that even ten years on your grief can sometimes feel as fresh as it did the moment you first heard the awful news."
He doesn’t make public appearances much anymore, but former Governor Donald Carcieri came out of retirement to speak at the groundbreaking on the Station Fire Memorial Park.
He recalled the horrible pain that was felt statewide the night of the fire and the way people pulled together later on. "It was as if the whole state was hurting for everybody that was affected. At a time of our state’s worst tragedy in some senses it was our people’s finest hour."
Angela Bogart was 19 when she lost her mother in the blaze. "When my Mom passed I didn’t really know her. I mean I knew she was a great person and a great mom. She supported decisions I made even if they were wrong later in life. She threw a wedding for me at 19 which was really dumb. And even though she disagreed she just wanted me to be happy."
The park will feature 12 round gardens, each bordered in granite with markers bearing the names of the 100 people lost in the fire. The project was delayed because the owner of the land didn’t want to give it up until all legal issues were settled.
Wednesday marks the tenth anniversary of the fire, which killed 100 people and injured more than 200.
Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org