Ahead of the 20th Anniversary of the Horrific Station Nightclub Fire, Reed Honors the Victims, Survivors, Families, First Responders & Community
WEST WARWICK, RI – Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the tragic Station Nightclub fire, which took the lives of 100 people and injured hundreds more on February 20, 2003, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), issued the following statement:
“A love of live music brought them together that night, and the tragedy that unfolded was unfathomable.
“We’re a small state, a tight community. Twenty years on, we still carry the collective loss, grief, and pain from that horrific night.
“Moments of remembrance like this offer a chance to reflect and help keep the memories of victims alive. It is difficult to look back on the tragedy, but it’s also an opportunity for healing.
“One thing we didn’t lose that night was our sense of community. Even in the darkest hour, people’s humanity, heroism, and hope shown through. Under the worst of circumstances, our firefighters, first responders, and medical professionals performed unbelievable feats that night, as did many of the patrons who selflessly helped save others. There are stories of people who risked their own safety to pull people out. One young man spent his final moments repeatedly going back into the building to help save others, never giving up, even as he drew his last breath.
“Nearby, small businesses like the Cowesett Inn were turned into triage centers, and first responders from all over raced to West Warwick to do whatever they could to help.
“I spent February 21, 2003 outside the Station Nightclub as recovery efforts were still underway and people were desperately trying to figure out where their loved ones could be, hoping they were among those taken to one of the hospitals. Twenty years later, we are still trying to recover from the tragedy.
“I remember visiting burn victims at different hospitals in the days and weeks that followed. I was inspired by the courage of these patients and their families, and the extraordinary skill and compassion of countless doctors, nurses, and health professionals. And I am in awe of the strength and resilience it took for many patients to get back on their feet after months of painful procedures, skin grafts, surgeries, and physical therapy.
“It’s overwhelming to think about the one hundred people who were taken by the fire in the prime of their lives, as well as the lives forever changed by the tragedy. Many people suffered and continue to wrestle with depression, PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and more. And it’s important for everyone to know that even twenty years on, it’s okay to not be okay. We remind them that help, including mental health care, is available and we are here to support each other.
“Twenty years on, we can also clearly see the incredible accomplishments and contributions survivors and family members of the victims made. They worked tirelessly to bring about positive change – to improve safety measures to prevent future tragedies. Their passion and determination helped make our state safer and a better place to live. Fire safety standards, building code standards and enforcement, mass casualty response protocols – improvements were made nationwide as a result of their determination to prevent others from suffering similar loss. Their passion and compassion for others has had a lasting impact. You can deeply feel it by visiting the Station Fire Memorial – a peaceful, thoughtful, very personal tribute to the victims located where the Station Nightclub once stood. I encourage people to visit the site. It’s a moving experience.
“The Station Nightclub tragedy will always be a part of Rhode Island’s history. We’ll carry people in our hearts, and try to understand that even though you can’t change the past, you can build a better future. You can look out for others. And you can be part of something greater than yourself.
“I hope to join with families and fellow citizens on Sunday, May 21, when people come together for the memorial service, which will also mark six years since the Station Fire Memorial was dedicated. There will be plenty more milestone opportunities to connect and remember, as well as small moments and every day reminders. One thing is for certain: people’s love of music and coming together endures. And a year from now, five, ten years from now: it will still feel like it was just yesterday. We’ll still be carrying that heartbreak, but hopefully a sense of hope too and gratitude for the impact so many had on our lives.”