Many firefighter monuments have been erected throughout the United States to honor those who have died in the line of duty. Each year, firefighters are killed either by saving others from fires or saving structures. As of October 2007, 99 firefighters had died in the United States. The largest from one area was on June 18, 2007, when nine rescue workers perished in a Charleston, South Carolina, blaze.
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
In 1981, the U.S. Fire Administration constructed a monument on the campus of the National Fire Academy in Maryland dedicated to fallen career and volunteer firefighters around the nation. Known as the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, it has a sculpted bronze Maltese Cross, a symbol that has been adopted through the years by various emergency rescue groups. This firefighters' monument bares a replica of this cross. The memorial, which was designated by Congress in 1990, also has an eternal flame that burns at its base and lists the names of all of the firefighters who have died since 1981. The memorial is open to the public throughout the year.
Once a firefighter dies in the line of duty, a flag is flown half-mast over the monument. He or she will then be honored during an annual memorial service. The service is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
The Firefighters' Monument
On September 11, 2001, 343 New York City firefighters died during and after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. In response to those deaths, a firefighter monument was unveiled in June 2006 on the side of "10 House," which is home to Engine Company 10 and Ladder Company 10 and located across the street from the World Trade Center. It is the first large-scale monument erected at ground zero, standing at 56 feet long. It is dedicated to firefighters "who fell and to those who carry on."
The middle panels of the monument depict the two burning towers just as the second jet hit the World Trade Center. There are also scenes of firefighters washing their faces and some laying down hose lines, as well as a tired firefighter reaching up from a curb. Visitors to the memorial, which is bound to become a landmark, can create etchings of the inscribed names on paper. To some, this is the closest they will ever get to where their loved ones died. To others, seeing the names listed finally brings some closure.
More Firefighter Monuments Around the Nation
Most large cities have their own rendition of a firefighters' monument. Some of them include:
- Illinois Firefighter Memorial: Erected in 1993 by the Firefighting Medal of Honor Committee, it consists of four life-size bronze firefighters in full gear, a child, a ladder and a hose.
- California Firefighters' Memorial: Located in Sacramento, California, the memorial is a tribute to the more than 850 firefighters who perished in the line of duty since 1850. It includes a memorial wall, a bronze statue entitled, "Fallen Brother," and another statue called, "Holding the Line."
- Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial: Consisting of a wall of honor and a statue, this tribute is also part of a park dedicated to preserving the memory of all fallen firefighters.
- Massachusetts Fallen Firefighters Memorial: Unveiled on September 11, 2007, it includes a statue of three firefighters surrounded by a Maltese Cross and a "Ring of Honor."