2007 Duty & Rememberance - North Key Largo
“Duty and Remembrance”
June 30, 2007. North Key Largo Fire Station, Key Largo, FL
Speech for Dedication Ceremony by T. Jay Virgin
Artist's General Contractor (and Son)
The two groups of sculpture that you are seeing today are titled "Duty and Remembrance". My father, Tom Virgin, has asked me to pass along his thanks for allowing him to interpret your vision of a memorial to fallen comrades. He wants you to know that all firefighters are appreciated, from the one in his own neighborhood that lent his visage to this project, to Chief Sergio Garcia and his volunteers that will call this station "home", to all the men and women who have taken on this job, and finally to those who are memorialized in this work. When disasters are close to home, your Fire Department is always first on the scene. Our lives are safer with you all in them.
My Dad has always made things, from nearly indestructible pinatas (ask me about that later, but picture a giant fire ant and golf clubs), to an eight foot paper mache thresher shark for a school library, to prints of my brothers and me, and even some art of his own. We grew up watching him turn piles of various materials into really cool stuff. Some of that stuff is now in museums and collections from Boca Raton to Miami, and now also in Key Largo. I'm glad he stuck with it. Right now he is in Portland, Oregon as an Artist in Residence at Oregon College of Art and Craft, defending a mountain and some fish. Sometimes I worry about him.
We will all see how it turns out, I can give you a postcard with his website so you can check up on him. For now he would want me to thank Monica Haskell and the Florida Keys Council of the Arts for their continuing support and encouragement, Chief Sergio Garcia for helping to choose appropriate imagery for this work, Monroe County and its Board of County Commissioners for funding, Project Manager Kevin Wilson for support beyond the call of duty, Architect Bill Horn for solid advice and a building to hang this stuff on, and finally all the skilled tradesmen who cut, bent, painted, and assembled these sculptures from his original concepts and drawings.... and of course, Micah and me, the General Contractors who installed it. That finishing process seems to skip a generation sometimes. Thank you all for coming to share this day with David Gow, the North Key Largo Fire Station Crew, Monroe County and the rest of us.