Letter: Information on Cloquet firefighters needed for new memorial
To the Editor:
Since 1881, 206 Minnesota firefighters have died in the line of duty. In 2011, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation launched an initiative to move the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial from the baggage claim area at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and create a larger, more accessible and interactive memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol.
The fire community is extremely proud that we reached our initial goal of $600,000 to make this happen, and that it was funded primarily by our state’s firefighters all across Minnesota. This concerted effort means the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial will be built on the grounds of the State Capitol later this year, giving families, friends, co-workers and community members a permanent location to pay tribute to these men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
We expect up to 4,000 people to attend the dedication ceremony to unveil the new memorial on Sept. 30, 2012, including hundreds of family members. But the memorial effort’s next-of-kin records are far from complete.
To ensure that every deceased firefighter’s families are represented at this important event and will receive a flag – flown over the Capitol – to commemorate the dedication, the state’s fire community is undertaking a campaign to reach out to and identify at least one family member of each of the 206 Minnesota firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1881.
The Minnesota Fire Service Foundation is working to identify family members of more than 100 of our state’s fallen firefighters, including three from the Cloquet area: Hjalmer Anderson (year of death 1931), Fredric A. Oberg (1946) and Gordon “Scotty” Mattson (1975).
We’re asking relatives or anyone with knowledge of relatives to contact Nyle Zikmund, Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Chief, at 612-860-7442 or firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Sept. 5, 2012.
In conjunction with raising awareness among relatives of deceased firefighters, the fire community is working to raise an additional $80,000 to cover unexpected construction costs for the project and minor expenses for the memorial dedication ceremony. There’s still time to contribute to the legacy. Financial contributions to the Minnesota State Firefighter Memorial fund-raising effort can be sent to: Minnesota Fire Service Foundation, c/o Flagship Bank, 7525 Office Ridge Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3644. Online contributions can be made at: www.mnfireservicefoundation.org. All contributions are tax deductible.
On behalf of the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation, Minnesota’s firefighters and our families, and everyone impacted and influenced by the sacrifices made by our fallen brethren, thank you very much.
George Esbensen, President
Minnesota Fire Service Foundation