The day after we parked RV Liberty at Artillery Ridge Campground in Gettysburg, PA, on Memorial Day, we decided to visit the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland. We noticed and made note of the exit while enroute to Gettysburg the day prior. We two-up’d on Lisa’s Harley as Dan’s was OOC (out of commission) with engine issues. The exit had your typical brown National Historical Site sign, however, once on the road leading to it, there was no further signing showing where it was. After Google-Mapping it, we ended up turning into this is where it took us:
Scratching our heads of why this ‘National Historical Site’ memorial would be under tight-lipped, locked tighter than Fort Knox was beyond us. We had to have taken a wrong turn. So, we Google-Mapped it again and it then, took us to a different entrance. Now, we would have taken a photo of what we came upon but NSA probably would be watching our every move (or maybe they already were??). We approached the security gate and asked politely how to get to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial and the guard said we were in the right place. He proceeded to ask for our ID’s; being this was obviously federal property, Dan handed over his Retired Military ID and I was closely following with my military dependent ID but we were interrupted sternly by the guard who asked for our drivers licenses. We proceeded politely. This is where it gets interesting. The guard took both of our licenses into the security booth and came out with two laminated ‘guest passes’ that we clip onto our clothing. The guard KEPT our licenses in the guard booth. This didn’t sit well with either of us but considering this was ‘federal property’, nothing surprises us anymore. (We promise not to get political LOL). Once inside, we noted this was also where the United States Fire Administration, the National Fire Academy and National FEMA offices were located. Regardless, someone please tell us why they would place a ‘National Memorial’ that is almost prohibitive and inaccessible?
Once we arrived to the site of the Memorial, we were taken by the beauty of the grounds; stone walls with iron gating topped with the outline of the Firefighter’s Maltese Crosses and scripted brick pavers of donors and memoriams leading to two locations.
One of the brick paver walkways led to this beautifully designed circular Memorial of Fallen Firefighters nationwide. This circle’s opening invited you in to view the brass plaques of previous years since 1981 listing the individual states and the Fallen Firefighters respectively.
We thought because it was so close to Memorial Day was why the flags were half mast. However, we learned that these flags are lowered at half mast every day a Firefighter is killed in the line of duty. The latest being from Claremore, Oklahoma; Capt. Jason Farley.
Here’s some photos of inside of the circle:
The Eternal Flame
Notably, both were polished brightly.
Example of the brass plaques dating back to 1981, listing the year, states and Fallen Firefighters.
This one below was for 2004.
As we exited the circle, we followed the brick pavers that led to the 9-11 Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial. It was an emotional walk as every other brick was inscribed the name of each Fallen Firefighter who was killed in the line of duty in the World Trade Center towers. We read them all.
We couldn’t help recognizing one of the Fallen Firefighter’s name; Jeffery Palazzo
Palazzo, age 33 at the time, was one of eleven members of Rescue Company 5 who were lost in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The reason we recognized his name is Jeffery was also a member of the Coast Guard Reserves.
After reading all of the names of those Fallen from the terrorist attacks in New York City, our eyes scaled the huge replica sculpture of the three firefighters notorious in the photograph seen around the world following the days of the attacks.
To appreciate the size of the sculpture, Dan placed his foot next to one of the Firefighter’s.
Here, Lisa stands in front of the Firefighters’ sculpture to show scale:
After spending a couple hours wiping tears and honoring our Fallen Firefighters by visiting their memorial, we left with emotional peace and appreciation of those who ‘run into burning buildings while others run out’. If you’re in the vicinity of Emmitsburg, MD, we encourage everyone to take the time to visit this worthwhile site. Please be sure to have photo ID (prefer drivers license as stated above).
Oh and yes, we did get our driver’s licenses returned to us when we turned in our guest passes. Still trying to figure that whole thing out.