The road to making the memorial a reality was a long one. It began in 1987, when artist Douglas O. Freeman created the familiar sculpture of a firefighter holding a young child, which was placed in a public space near the baggage claim areas at the Minneapolis –St. Paul International Airport.
Through the years the desire to create a larger, more accessible and interactive memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol increased, and in the spring of 2011 two critical developments occurred: World-renowned architectural and design firm Leo A. Daly offered to design a fitting and proper memorial space and Twin Cities public relations agency Bellmont Partners offered to lead a communications campaign to build awareness and drive funding – both on a pro bono basis.
The MN Fire Service Foundation began the process of building a MN State Fallen Firefighter Memorial on the State Capitol grounds. They successfully raised $720,000 to fund the memorial through donations from the public, Minnesota businesses and, primarily, from the state’s firefighting community in order to fund the project by December 31, 2011. It became a reality when the completed structure was dedicated on September 30, 2012. The names of 207 firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty are inscribed on the memorial which is located on the south side of the State Capitol grounds.
An annual service is held on the last Sunday in September, which has been designated as the state’s official day to honor Minnesota’s fallen firefighters. This year it will be held on September 24, 2023.
In the spring of 2014, a Saint Paul firefighter presented an idea to the Saint Paul Fire Foundation (a collection of business leaders and firefighters, established in 2010 with the mission of finding ways to fund projects that benefit St. Paul Firefighters and the citizens they serve) about having permanent markers placed around the city in order to further memorialize our Line of Duty Deaths (LODD) in a way that is more informative and historical.
There have been 64 LODD since the St. Paul Fire Department was established in 1856, the first recorded in 1882. In 2010, Chief Tim Butler assigned the task of compiling the history of those deaths to his secretary, Josette Bradley, and office manager Cindy Mentes. They searched history books and newspaper clippings, and contacted family members of the deceased in order to put together all the facts. The firefighters were memorialized at the dedication ceremony on the Capitol grounds in September of 2012. Now a much more personal and informative tribute is in the works. Street signs or wall mounted signs will be placed near the site of the LODD and will include the Maltese Cross which is the symbol of the fire department, the person's name, and the date that they gave their life in the line of duty. There will also be space on the Honor Guards website for anyone's name who wishes to sponsor a memorial sign for a minimum donation of $100. Go to www.stpaulfirehonorguard.org to make a donation or to become a sponsor. Donations to the St. Paul Fire Foundation will also be accepted. A listing of the firefighters' names, the history behind their LODD, and site locations in driving or biking tour order can also be found on the Local 21 website.
Thomas McDonough Jr.
Page Last Updated: Sep 19, 2023 (15:21:51)