GIRARD — Firefighters from southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri gathered to honor fallen brothers and sisters at the Girard Fire Station Sunday.
The 29th Annual Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial was hosted by the Girard Fire Department in conjunction with Crawford County Fire District No. 4 and the Southeast Kansas Firefighter Honor Guard. SEK Honor Guard Member and Fire District No. 4 Captain Craig Garrett said the memorial is an honored tradition.
“It is a way to honor the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice whether they are volunteers or career firefighters,” Garrett said.
This year the memorial honored 79 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2015. Thirty-three additional firefighters whose deaths in previous years were deemed line-of-duty deaths were also honored.
Neodesha Fire Chief Duane Banzet served as speaker for the memorial, and presentations were given by members of the SEK Honor Guard as well as honor guards from Carl Junction and Joplin, Missouri.
Clifford Robert Sanders was one of the 112 firefighters honored Sunday. He was a member of the Caney Fire Department and the Caney fire chief, as well as Sanders’ wife and grandson attended the memorial.
“They are all important, but this one had some special meaning with Clifford’s wife and grandson there,” Garrett said. “The SEK Honor Guard had the honor to present at his funeral.”
Members from the Arma and Pittsburg fire departments attended the memorial as well. The Pittsburg department brought a ladder truck to hoist a large American flag.
The memorial had traditionally been on the second Sunday in October to mark the end of Fire Prevention Week. However, Garrett said this year it was moved to allow families and other firefighters to attend the state memorial on the first Saturday of October, and the national memorial, which is now held on the second Sunday of the Month.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.