National Fallen Firefighters Foundation: Badge of Honor and Remembrance

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  On Sunday, October 4th, our nation will honor the brave firefighters, who have sacrificed their lives for the safety of others, with a ceremony at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. A Presidential wreath will be placed at the monument, and a plaque, honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in the line-of-duty during the previous year, will be erected to join the names of their fellow fallen firefighters, on the Wall of Honor. The families of the most recent heroes laid to rest will receive a U.S. flag that has been flown at half-staff over the Capitol and the National Memorial, a long red rose, symbolizing the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s dedication to the families, and a commemorative, custom-made, individually identified badge, which is dedicated to the memory of their loved one’s selfless spirit. In 2010, the NFFF wanted to create a badge to honor each firefighter, who had passed away in the line-of-duty the prior year, as a unique and personal keepsake for each family. The charitable foundation commissioned Smith & Warren to develop and design the badge, with special attention paid to incorporating the symbolisms of the fire service and the memorial in particular. Atop the shield, which is shaped like the front of a traditional leather fireman’s helmet, is a Maltese cross with a rose in the center, which is the official emblem of the NFFF. You’ll also see on the badge another Maltese cross on top of the memorial and at its base. Before the monument was built, a cobblestone Maltese cross and a circular sidewalk surrounding it were laid down to symbolize a shield of protection. The red enamel at the foot of the structure represents the eternal flame that constantly burns for the spirit of all firefighters – past, present and future. The dedication plate, which bears a message from President Ronald W. Reagan, is also depicted, reminding us to never forget the sacrifices and services of the firefighters and the National Memorial. On the commemorative badge, you’ll see a gold brick pathway leading up to the memorial that symbolizes the Walk of Honor. The Walk of Honor winds through the beautiful campus, connecting the monument site to the historic National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel. The actual red bricks that make up the park’s sidewalks can be purchased to pay respect and tribute to individuals and organizations. Flanking the memorial are two structures, which stand prominently on each side of the badge – one with a bugle and the other with a bell. The bugle is traditionally played by firefighters to announce their presence, and is also used at funerals, while the bell stands for the last call. And finally, majestically rising up from behind the Wall of Honor, which surrounds the memorial, appears a glorious phoenix, an ancient symbol that is historically associated with rebirth and resurrection. “The badge design is really unique because it encompasses all the special things found in Emmitburg, intertwining a taste of the National Memorial and a taste of the fire service culture,” NFFF Executive Director Chief Ron Siarnicki commented, after examining the memorial badge. “We want the families to have it as a special keepsake and to always remember that the sacrifices of their fallen loved ones really do matter. And I have to say that Smith & Warren has truly gone out of their way to make this all work. They have set the bar for us as a partner – in taking the ideas of our mission and taking their corporate philosophy and combining them to support the American fire system. It’s been a great experience. We are very, very appreciative of all they have done to help make this happen.” Smith & Warren is proud to support the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s mission: “TO HONOR AND REMEMBER AMERICA’S FALLEN FIRE HEROES AND TO PROVIDE RESOURCES TO ASSIST THEIR SURVIVORS IN REBUILDING THEIR LIVES AND WORK WITHIN THE FIRE SERVICE COMMUNITY TO REDUCE FIREFIGHTER DEATHS AND INJURIES”. To learn more about the NFFF or to donate visit

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