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Missouri's fallen firefighters memorialized with statue
KINGDOM CITY, Mo. -- Hundreds of firefighters killed in the line of duty were remembered Saturday at the dedication of the Missouri Firefighters Memorial in Kingdom City.
St. Louis firefighters wore black bands wrapped diagonally around their department badges in mourning for two comrades who died of burns and smoke inhalation after they re-entered a burning building to save a person who was believed missing.
Michael Pollihan, a battalion chief for the St. Louis City Fire Department, said the department will remove the bands and raise their flags to full staff on June 4, one month after the deaths of captains Robert Morrison and Derek Martin.
Rep. Kenny Hulshof invoked the names of the two men in his speech to hundreds of firefighters and other visitors.
"Today is about them and others," said Hulshof.
Hulshof, Gov. Bob Holden, Sens. Jean Carnahan and Kit Bond, and several other lawmakers thanked dead and living firefighters before the unveiling of a 3,000 pound bronze statue of a firefighter kneeling in prayer.
Two of a kind
The statue is the second of its kind. The original European-made sculpture was in customs in New York City on Sept. 11, when two planes were crashed into the World Trade Center.
Officials of the Missouri memorial decided to donate the statue to the New York City Fire Department in honor of firefighters and other rescue workers killed when the trade center collapsed. That statue is awaiting a permanent site, possibly near Ground Zero.
The Missouri memorial, located at the intersection of Interstate 70 and U.S. 54, also includes two black and gray granite walls that list the names of firefighters who died in service.
The names of Morrison and Martin are the most recent additions to a list of more than 330 firefighters.
The first firefighting death in the state that researchers could find was Fred Turnbull, a St. Louis volunteer firefighter who died in 1838.
"Each year, unfortunately," said the Rev. Steve Barker during the ceremony's invocation, "we will add names to the wall."