GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 9, 2012

Dressing in special tribute

Many across the Cape Ann community will pause to show their appreciation for veterans Sunday morning and throughout this holiday weekend.

But Cape Ann firefighters, many of whom are veterans themselves, have been paying tribute to veterans each Friday, wearing red shirts instead of the usual navy blue.

Gloucester’s Fire Department is rich with veterans, partly because the department pushed the city to hire more young, local veterans over the past year.

Several working in their red, collared shirts Friday represented the country’s armed forces, including firefighter and Marine Kyle Benson, who was hired last month after serving two tours overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

“I just love the job. It’s the same kind of lifestyle,” Benson said. “They like veterans here (in Gloucester). It’s very obvious.”

Benson’s red polo-style shirt bore a yellow ribbon on the sleeve that lays over his firefighter bicep tattoo. The front of the shirt is emblazoned with the Gloucester Fire Department logo. His colleagues’ shirts vary a bit in style, but all represent a commemoration of veterans. And another new veteran recruit, firefighter Dean DeCoste, will observe the holiday from afar this year, having been called to serve for National Guard assisting with Hurricane Sandy recovery in Staten Island.

Rockport and Manchester similarly take part in the national program of firefighters wearing red shirts in honor of troops.

The Rockport Fire Department reminds firefighters to wear their red shirts each Friday through the department’s Facebook page. “Don’t forget to wear your RED to show support for our troops at home and abroad,” the page read Friday.

Manchester firefighters quietly pull on their red shirts every Friday, too.

Firefighter Bobby Cavendar said, with firefighting being a paramilitary career, firefighters feel for veterans and gladly wear the red to demonstrate their support.

“Basically it’s just like a silent support,” Cavender said. “It makes sense that we would support our troops.”

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.

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