OGDEN -- Dee Jay Bawden has completed a number of impressive projects in his 40-year career as an artist.
But he described Saturday's unveiling of his latest creation, a 7 1/2-foot tall bronze statue of two firefighters at Ogden's Municipal Gardens, as particularly poignant.
Not only will the statue anchor the fledging America's Fallen Firefighter Memorial, the unveiling took place on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
"It's something to recognize everyday heroes who risk their lives," Bawden, a Provo resident, said following a ceremony at the Ogden Amphitheater to commemorate the unveiling. "I really enjoyed (working on the statue) a lot."
Weighing about 1,500 pounds, the statue is situated atop a large base of granite cut from a Vermont quarry.
It depicts a firefighter on bended knee picking up the helmet of a fallen comrade, while being comforted by another firefighter.
Finishing touches were applied Friday night to the statue that took about five months to complete, Bawden said.
The process began with two firefighters from Roy and Ogden posing for a photo to depict the firefighters in the statue.
A frame of the design was then made from wire and molding foam. The frame was covered with clay to create a mold. The mold was sent to a foundry in Kearns where the bronze for the statue was cast.
Bawden said he has done many bronze statues for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, Ill. and has created a grizzly bear statue at the Maverick Center in Salt Lake City.
The design of the statue and conception for America's Fallen Firefighter Memorial is the brainchild of Ogden Fire Capt. Rich King and Mike Leatham, owner of SymbolArts, an Ogden company that produces custom-designed law enforcement badges, challenge coins, lapel pins and other jewelry.
The memorial will cost about $600,000 to construct.
John Gullo, a local philanthropist who operates the American Dream Foundation, contributed $85,000 for the statue while Leatham provided $50,000 to purchase the granite base. The base was acquired by the Mark H. Bott Company based in Ogden.
Gullo said the statue is particularly meaningful to him because a replica of a badge worn by his father, who was a firefighter for 30 years in Niagara Falls, N.Y. is engraved into the artwork.
"I'm doing something in my father's name because he has done so much for me," he said.
The memorial will include black granite panels next to an outer walkway which will be inscribed with the names of firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
The Ogden memorial will be the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi River and will honor professional, part-time, volunteer, wildland, military and industrial firefighters who have died in the line of duty from around the country.
Saturday's unveiling drew more than 1,000 motorcyclists who participated in a ride from Sandy to Ogden. The event featured the reading of the names of firefighters from around the country who died in the line of duty in 2010. It also included patriotic music, a helicopter fly-over and speeches from several dignitaries.