Norman G. VezinaSmithfield Police Department, Rhode Island
End of Watch: Tuesday, December 10, 1968
Reflections for Sergeant Norman G. Vezina
To Suzanne Vezina James,
My dad, Norman Bellemore, was your dad's first cousin (and named after him, although they were just three months apart in age). He was my dad's best friend. I remember my cousin Norman well, & I was four and half years old when they died. I would love to be in touch with you, but I don't know how to reach you. I live in Smithfield. Sincerely, Marilyn Bellemore
Norman Vezina's second cousin
March 4, 2014
I was 11 years old in 1968 when that tragedy happened. I lived on Indian Run Trail, so I was from the other end if the lake. I remembered something about a young boy and a police officer, and I knew there was a drowning, but it wasn't until now that I looked it up, and read the whole story. My heart is breaking for both of the families that lost someone that night. I just wanted to say how very sorry I am for your loss.
Resident of Smithfield RI
April 1, 2013
Your heroism and service is honored today, the 43rd anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.
To lose your own life trying to save a young child was so valiant. I pray for trhe solace of all those who love and miss you for I know both the pain and pride are forever.
Rest In Peace
mom of fallen California Officer Larry Lasater, PPD, eow 4/24/05
December 10, 2011
Merry Christmas Dad. Love you
Sue Vezina James
December 15, 2010
I came across this page as I looked at the Today in History portion. As a mother and a police officer, Sergeant Vezina's sacrifice touched my heart deeper than most.
The ultimate sacrifice to give your life in the line of duty is always to be respected and remembered but to give your life in an attempt to save a child.... What a brave, special man he must have been.
Although this happened so long ago, all heroes deserve to be remembered and revered. Sergeant Vezina, my heartfelt prayers and thoughts are with those who still love and miss you all these years after you sacrificed yourself to try and save the ultimate in innocence - a child.
I have no doubt there is a special place in the afterlife for heroes such as yourself.
York Regional Police Department, Ontario
December 10, 2010
My daughter attends Bryant University in N. Smithfield, RI. I had to bring her to the Smithfield P.D. to discuss something that happened on campus. It was at this time that I read the story of Sgt. Norman Vezina. His heroism is an incredible story, he gave his life to try to save a child. I told my daughter to visit this website and read more about this man, to learn about what happened that day and how courage and valor are defined. I also discussed his heroism with my young officers at roll call, to remind them what kind of character is expected of our police officers. To Sgt. Vezina's family, his bravery helps me teach my officers, and for that I am forever in debt. It may have happended 41 years ago, but his legacy will never fade, I won't let that happen.
"I pray that the Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom." -Abraham Lincoln
Lt. Peter Salzberg
Walpole MA P.D.
March 12, 2010
I've seen this post online for some time now. Please forgive me for taking so long before deciding to put forth my own statement.
Growing up with relatives who had a personal experience in the life of my uncle, I always felt a "special" kind of affection given because of my name, although Kenneth R.'s mother Joyce refused to call me anybody but "Baby" for about a month after my birth. Kenneth's parents Archie and Joyce, have an older son, Alan--my father--and a daughter, Denise. It may seem like simple logic to name the next son of the family, with that of the last one in the most recent generation to lose his life. I'm not giving up on the name for my own parenthood.
Vezina's act of heroism is to be expected in his uniform, but only the rare gems actually go the distance, to whatever end. In any case, thank you for your sacrifice, Sergeant. I really should donate to my local policemen. I wouldn't mind being a policeman myself. I don't really know what else to say, but something absolutely random passed my eyes this morning and I came across Madonna's genealogy; the surname Vezina was among those listed.
Kenneth A. Firby
nephew/namesake of deceased minor
September 1, 2009
I am so touched by those of you who wrote your reflections on my father's memorial page. Needless to say, I cried like a baby. It doesn't matter how many years go by to feel the emotion of that day on December 10, 1968. I remember going to his funeral and being in awe of the attendance of police officers from around the State and the enormity of the situation.
To my cousin, Cheryl, I also regret that I wasn't able to be a part of your family. There were circumstances beyond my control that prevented me from keeping in touch. I found out two months before the passing of my father that he was a police officer in the Town of Smithfield. I had planned on getting in touch with him but it was too late. He was a kind and gentle man and I can only hope I am half the person that he was. I live in Southwest New Mexico. I would love to hear from you. If anyone else would like to be in touch with me, please don't hesitate.
To the family of Kenneth Firby, I am so sorry for your loss as well. I believe that when it is our time to cross over, my father and Kenneth will be there waiting for us with open arms.
Thank you again. This means so much to me.
Sue Vezina James
Daughter of Norman Vezina
December 5, 2008
I was too young to remember that day, almost 40 years ago, when Sergeant Vezina so valiantly tried to save the life of my 5 year old cousin, Kenneth Firby. I do remember however, the grief that my family felt, dealing with the tragic loss of an innocent child.
It wasn't till recently that I was able to learn the name of the "hero" who courageously gave the ultimate sacrifice, in an attempt to save my cousin. That hero was Sergeant Norman Vezina, a name that I never knew, till now.
I am overwhelmed with emotion, when I think about what Sergeant Vezina did for my family, on that tragic day. Sergeant Vezina gave his life in an attempt to save my cousin, and for that, I am greatly indebted.
Like Sergeant Vezina, I too, am a Police Officer. Many a time I have thought about the brave Officer who had risked his life to aid my drowning cousin, and wondered if need be, could I be as brave as he was, given similar circumstances.
Sergeant Vezina's family should be extremely proud of his actions on that tragic day. On December 10, 1968, Sergeant Vezina went above and beyond the call of duty. For that, he is my hero. Sergeant Vezina will always be in my thoughts and prayers.
Ptlm. Paul J. Berard
Attleboro Police Department
Ptlm. Paul J. Berard-Attleboro Police
Cousin of Kenneth Firby
September 28, 2008
You are remembered today and thank you Sir for your service
Pat Van Den Berghe, Manchester, NH
Neighbors for a Better Manchester, NH
December 6, 2007
Although I never met Sergeant Vezina, I can still remember how proud his daughter, Suzanne, sounded when talking about her deceased father. He will always be a hero to her, and now he can be a hero to the many who visit his memorial page. Also, if it wasn’t for Sergeant Vezina, I couldn’t have met my “first true love”. And for that, I want to thank him.
November 9, 2007
I just recently learned of this site and I am sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks reading all of the info in it. I was 14 years old when my mother got the call that her brother had drowned trying to save a little boy. Its hard looking back, even now, remembering all the heartbreak.
Our family has always been very close and we regret that our cousin, Suzanne, hasn't been a part of that. I reside in Smithfield now and I am very happy when someone shares a memory of my uncle with me, or I see all of the ways the Smithfield Police Department keeps his memory alive. Thank you.
Cheryl (Dragon) Dooley
September 21, 2007
It has been a long time since you passed. You and your family are in my prayers. I have a 5 yr old little girl who is the light of my life. You are the bravest of the brave for risking your life to save a child. Thank you for your service and God Bless.
May 22, 2007
Sgt. Vezina, today marks the 38th anniversary of your tragic death. Rhode Island is the smallest state, yet it had one of the biggest hearts. You proved that with your heroic attempt to save that child. It was a selfless and courageous act, no doubt a reflection on your entire career.
May God Bless you and may you continue to Rest in Peace, Brother.
Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Dept.
December 10, 2006
It was unfortunate for me that I never had the chance to have my father, Norman Vezina, in my life through my teenage years and adulthood. He has always been a hero to me and I have come to truly believe that he is my guardian angel. I also believe that the little boy who drowned with him was safe in my father's arms when they embarked on their journey to heaven. I want to thank the Smithfield Police Department for your website and to those of you who have kept my dad's memory alive through all these years.
Suzanne Vezina James
Suzanne Vezina James
Norman Vezina was my father
November 28, 2006
Sergeant Vezina did such a selfless act that I hope we all can, in our own capacities try to emulate. Kenneth Firby would have been my brother inlaw (the child Sgt. Vezina valiantly tried to save).
I was married to the elder brother, Alan, who since that incident, has tried to save lives himself, and has done so, in many ways. We named our first born after Kenneth, but if we had thought about it and looked up the officer's name, we would have most definitely also included officer Vezina's name in his name as well.
To the family and friends, your loved one has not been forgotten, but has been remembered for his bravery.
Mary (Staples) Firby Broccoli
September 25, 2006
Thank you for being a HERO Sgt. Vezina
December 10, 2005
I thought it amazing what this officer did. I live just down route 44, a road that leads to Smithfield. Being so close, I thought I might remark. I can only hope that such bravery lies within me; while Sgt. Vezina exemplifies it. An amazing man, an amazing sacrifice.
January 7, 2004
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