Remembering fallen firefighters

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This afternoon, I covered an event that was two ceremonies in one — a ribbon-cutting, with an upbeat sense of accomplishment, and a dedication, with a somber sense of loss.

The Tennessee Fallen Firefighter Memorial was opened today on the grounds of the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy here in Bedford County. The memorial bears the names of 197 Tennessee firefighters who died in the line of duty. There was a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the project. That ribbon-cutting was followed by a memorial service at which the names of all 197 firefighters were read, as family members or colleagues placed roses on the memorial plaques. It was quite moving. The bell seen here (which is not a permanent part of the memorial) was rung in three bursts of five, a traditional fire signal, symbolizing the fact that the fallen have gone on to their eternal reward.

This is actually just Phase I; they hope to eventually put some sort of statue about where the bell is standing in this photo.

I’ll have a story about the event in this Sunday’s newspaper, and then a photo page about it next Sunday.