More than 4,000 people, including families of Minnesota firefighters who died in the line of duty, Governor Mark Dayton and statewide fire officials, will gather on the State Capitol grounds Sept. 30 to dedicate the newly installed Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial.
The solemn ceremony will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30, Minnesota’s recently designated 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 will receive a Minnesota State flag that has been flown over the State Capitol.
In 2011, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation launched an initiative to move the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial from the baggage claim area at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and create a larger, more accessible and interactive memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol. The new memorial will give families, friends, co-workers and community members a permanent location to pay tribute to these men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Fire Service successfully raised $600,000 to fund the memorial through donations from the public, Minnesota businesses and, primarily, from the state’s firefighting community. “This has been a joint effort between firefighters, the business community and the public,” said George Esbensen, President of the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation. “We’ve seen support pour in from all across Minnesota, and we’re particularly proud of the way many of the fire departments across the state have contributed to this important effort.”
“It’s an honor to have been a part of this important project,” said Richard C. Kline, Fire Chief for the City of Plymouth. “Our department fully supported the memorial efforts over the past year, and we feel very proud to have played a role. We continue the work of those who have gone before us every time we’re called to duty.”
Due to higher-than-anticipated construction costs, and minor expenses for the dedication ceremony, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation is continuing its efforts to raise an additional $50,000. Financial contributions to the Minnesota State Firefighter Memorial fundraising effort can be sent to: Minnesota Fire Service Foundation c/o Flagship Bank, 7525 Office Ridge Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3644. Online contributions can be made at: www.MNFireServiceFoundation.org. All contributions are tax deductible. Donations exceeding the goal will fund educational scholarships for children of active, retired or deceased firefighters, and for spouses of deceased firefighters.