June 16, 2006

 

 


Courtesy photo

Gov. Mitt Romney signs legislation yesterday renaming the Essex-Merrimack Bridge to the Derek S. Hines Memorial Bridge.

Newburyport Mayor John Moak called naming the bridge crossing the powerful Merrimack River the "ultimate tribute" to someone whose values left such a strong impression on his community.

 

Bridge named for Port's fallen son

Gov. Mitt Romney signs legislation yesterday renaming the Essex-Merrimack Bridge to the Derek S. Hines Memorial Bridge.


By Edward Mason
Staff writer


BOSTON — Newburyport native Derek S. Hines died in Afghanistan in September 2005. Yesterday, state officials named a busy bridge spanning the Merrimack River after him to help keep his memory alive.

Hines, a 1st lieutenant in an airborne artillery unit, was killed searching for Taliban fighters in a remote Afghan village. He was 25.

During a sometimes emotional press conference, Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday signed into law the bill naming the Essex-Merrimack bridge, spanning from Deer Island to Main Street in Amesbury, the Lt. Derek S. Hines Memorial Bridge.

"This was a young man who Massachusetts can be proud of," Romney said.

Romney, flanked by Hines' father, Steven, mother, Susan, sister, Ashley, brothers, Michael and Trevor, and grandmother, Lorraine Ouellette, recalled the "outpouring of love and grief" at the funeral service for Hines, where Newburyport remembered a favorite son who always had a smile, was a standout high school hockey player and who gave his life defending the principles of his country.

By naming the bridge after Hines, Massachusetts would not forget one of its heroes, Romney said.

Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen, and Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport, proposed naming the bridge for Hines and shepherded the bill through the Statehouse.

Baddour called Hines a "hero ... unflinchingly making the ultimate sacrifice."

Costello added that their choice of bridge connecting Amesbury and Newburyport was not a coincidence. Looking for an appropriate way to recognize Hines, they picked something that held meaning for the Hines family. Hines' father Steven was from Newburyport and his mother Susan was from Amesbury, and it was a bridge that the Hines family travels often.

"We thought of his life and his roots rather than his death," Costello said.

Sgt. Steven Hines, a state police officer, recalled in a shaky voice how, when Derek was a boy, he took him across the bridge from Amesbury to Newburyport for hockey practice.

Hines played hockey at St. John's Prep and later at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He went from West Point into the Army and from their a tour in Afghanistan.

The elder Hines spoke emotionally of how his son dutifully went to Afghanistan, as his wife stood behind him dabbing tears from her eyes.

"He could have taken the easy way out," Hines said.

Rather, the younger Hines went to Afghanistan to make a difference, and Steven Hines, with his voice wavering, said he did.

Speaking after the ceremony, Susan Hines said her son believed in the principles his country stood for and that the memorial was an important part of keeping his memory alive.

"It helps everyone know who he was and remember who he was," Susan Hines said. "It helps us to know he's remembered for what he believes in and his respect for his country."

Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer said a bridge spanning Amesbury and Newburyport will be a lasting reminder of Hines' commitment to the community. Kezer, who has served in the Air Force National Guard for 27 years, also said it was a fitting way to remember Hines' commitment to his country.

Newburyport Mayor John Moak called naming a bridge crossing the powerful Merrimack River "the ultimate tribute" to someone whose values left such a strong impression on his community.

"If anyone has seen the river the past few months and how powerful it is," Moak said, "to have that bridge named for him is so significant."

Ed Hill, who grew up with Derek Hines, also came to the Statehouse ceremony. Hill, 25, met Hines in the first grade, and they played hockey together, finally going their separate ways when Hines went to West Point.

Hill sat respectfully quiet through the bill signing, still finding it hard to believe his best friend was gone. Just as he felt disbelief at his friend's absence, Hill said Hines would have been uncomfortable with all of the fuss being made about him — the governor, the lawmakers, the television cameras.

"He'd be embarrassed to see this happen," Hill said. "He touched a lot of lives."
 
 

(This article replicated online with permission of the Newburyport Daily News, an Eagle Tribune Newspaper.)

 
 
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