TEMPE, Ariz. — The City of Tempe dedicated a new memorial to honor its fallen heroes.
“This monument is powerful,” said Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir. “And it is a reminder of those who gave their lives safeguarding Tempe.”
The memorial, named ‘Answering the Call,’ sits at the entrance of the Tempe Beach Park.
“This monument is meant to symbolize the public safety service, and the services those members who put service before self, often at their own peril,” Moir said.
In all, five Tempe police officers, three canines and one firefighter have died in the line of duty.
Vicki Gaicki, sister of Ed Gaicki the only Tempe firefighter to die in the line of duty, tried to express what the memorial meant to her.
“It’s really hard to put into words what this means to me,” she said. “What an honor it is to have this here and know that when my son has children he can bring his kids here, and will be able to tell them the story about his uncle.”
Gaicki added that it means the world that we now have a place to go, pay our respects and remember Ed.
The monument’s artist, Benjamin Victor, said he used Ed Gaicki’s face as inspiration for the firefighter’s sculpture which stands next to the police officer and the canine.
“I think that that personal touch is really important in this type of memorial or monument,” Victor explained. “That it’s not just something that’s cold or lifeless, but that we’re actually trying to get across a purpose or a point that there’s honor in answering that call.”
After the proposal for what the sculpture might look like was accepted, Victor said he named it ‘Answering the Call.’
“I just kept thinking about that design and that idea of these police officers, firefighters and then the canines,” he said. “That just go in there without a thought for their own well-being to protect and serve others.”
Victor added that that idea of answering that call of duty no matter what the danger is where the title came from.