Thousands of people, including families of Minnesota firefighters who died in the line of duty and fire officials, gathered on the State Capitol grounds Sept. 30 to dedicate the newly installed Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial.
Coon Rapids Fire Chief John Piper and Capt. Tim Gilsrud participated in this event.
Gilsrud escorted the family of a deceased firefighter and Piper presented flags to surviving family members, who also received roses.
“It was a very moving experience to be part of this special event that honored the 207 firefighters that have died in the line of duty in Minnesota,” Piper said.
The state of Minnesota recently designated Sept. 30 as Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day.
Since 1881, 206 Minnesota firefighters have died in the line of duty. Their names will be inscribed on columns throughout the memorial, located on the south side of the Capitol grounds.
As part of the memorial dedication, each firefighter’s family received a Minnesota state flag that has been flown over the State Capitol.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Mark Dayton spoke at the ceremony, according to Piper.
The Minnesota Fire Service Foundation, formed in 1986, had as one of its goals to raise funds to create a fallen firefighter memorial.
The approximately 6,000 square-foot memorial comprises a large, 19,000 pound monolith measuring 22 by 28 feet supported by a grid of steel columns that house the Minnesota Fire Service Memorial Statue, which is a sculpture of a firefighter rescuing a child and is lit by natural light through a circular void in the monolith.
The memorial is set in a landscaped garden on the State Capitol grounds and has a paved assembly area.