The Selden Fire Department remembered the life of a fallen hero by dedicating a new memorial park April 6.
Fifty years ago, Chief Arnold Seaman was killed in the line of duty while responding to a fire at Newfield High School. On the way to the high school April 10, 1969, Seaman was involved in a car crash. He was taken to the hospital but did not survive his injuries.
The park named in his honor was built on the corner of Hawkins Avenue and North Bicycle Path near the site of the fatal crash. Friends and family paid tribute to the late Seaman, hailed as a true American hero.
Jack Emr was the assistant fire chief of the department at the time of the crash and took over as chief after Seaman’s death. He said burying his close friend took a big chunk of his heart.
“Every April 10, I have a beer and I say, ‘Chief, save me a seat for me on the fire truck, I’ll be there soon,’” he said.
In the center of the park is a memorial honoring the late chief with a bronze helmet, an exact replica of the one he wore 50 years ago. The area around the park was designated as Chief Arnold Seaman Way.
Jim Seaman, Arnold’s son, thanked the crowd for coming to the dedication and said since the day of the crash 50 years ago, the Selden Fire Department has had the family’s back. “It is a debt we can never repay, and I thank them,” he said.
Jim Seaman reminisced about being named an honorary fireman back in 1969, displaying to the crowd the badge he was given all those years ago. He also mentioned an experience about ten years ago, when at an installation dinner he was called up and handed a fire chief’s jacket, calling it the greatest honor of his life.
“I know my father is looking down and is beaming ear to ear right now,” he said.
Later in his speech he added, “This [park] is something as a family we can be proud of. It’s something 10 years from now my father’s great-grandchildren can come and visit.”