Wall of clippings pays tribute to local police, rescue workers
While it’s no grand showcase, it means much to the five employees of Prince William County Employee Health.
The group has been clipping pictures of local public safety officials they see in area newspapers and periodicals and placing them on the wall outside their offices for everyone to see.
The pictures range from firefighters battling blazes to police officers probing violent crimes. There are also less sensational pictures of officers getting promoted or retiring. Sadly, there are also pictures of funerals of public safety officials who died while on the job.
Some of the pictures are in color; others in black and white. Some are large; some are wallet-sized.
“The whole idea started about a year ago when we clipped out a picture of Prince William police Detective Dave Watson (since retired) working on a case. It was such a good picture of him we decided to display it on the wall and the idea just grew from that,” said registered nurse Angela Lambert, who has worked at the facility for 31/2 years.
Officers like Watson and new recruits come to the center for physical checkups — some every year, some two or three, depending on their age.
“We pretty much get to know all of them — from the police to the deputy sheriffs to the firemen to the animal control officers,” said Helen Meares, who has been a secretary in the center for 31/2 years.
“It has really grown into a centerpiece for the office. All of the officers stop and look at it,” said Dr. E.C. Lyon, director.
Dr. John Pauwinski, who substitutes at the center, said the “wall has taken on a new meaning since the Sept. 11 tragedy. We have all learned to be more appreciative of the work of the police and firemen and how vital they are to protecting us and our property.”
A poster showing the raising of an American flag at the World Trade Center has been placed in the middle of the local pictures.
Lambert said the pictures are particularly impressive to the new recruits who come in for their initial physicals.
“Many of them are at awe of what their peers are doing, as they see the firemen and policemen at work. It gives them some idea of the exciting work they will be doing,” she said.
Located in the Smoketown Plaza on Smoketown Road in Woodbridge, the center may be forced to move as part of the plaza is being destroyed to make way for a new building supply store.
“Should that happen, we will take the pictures down and put them in a scrapbook for a permanent record of what our firemen and police officers have done,” said Lambert.
Pauwinski said on occasion, the officers coming in for an examination also bring in pictures of their fellow employees they have clipped from periodicals.
“You can’t believe how proud they feel about seeing themselves or someone they know in a picture on the wall. Many of them spend a long time looking them over,” said Pauwinski.
“I recently heard one of the firemen telling another as he looked at a picture of a fire, ‘I was on that call, we did a great job bringing it under control,'” Pauwinski said.
“We are glad that through the wall we can bring a sense of pride to the men and women we serve as ‘clients,'” Lambert concluded.