MARSHALL - Marshall Fire Chief Marc Klaith said the new state firefighters memorial at the State Capitol, scheduled to be completed in October, captures the strength of firefighters in Minnesota, and he equates it to Marshall's Memorial Park, reminding us to not forget our fallen heroes.
"It's going to do firefighters justice," Klaith said. "The number of deaths that have come in the line of duty is significant. It's almost like our memorial out here because it tells us we should never forget. And it represents the whole state."
The proposed memorial is a definite upgrade from the current one - both in stature and location. The current memorial stands in a tucked-away location near the baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport where it has been for more than 20 years.
An artist’s rendering of the new state firefighters memorial to be constructed near the state Capitol.
"It's down in the bottom level there," Klaith said. "If you don't know why it's there you wouldn't even understand it. I think moving it out of there and putting a new one by the Capitol brings more notice to it."
Firefighters from across the state gathered Wednesday at Chanhassen Fire Department No. 1 to announce they have exceeded their fundraising goal for the construction of a memorial honoring the state's fallen firefighters, with more than $600,000 committed in donations and pledges.
Klaith said most fire departments in Lyon County supported the memorial, as did the Lyon County Mutual Aid Group.
The cost to build the memorial is $500,000, and the remaining $100,000 will be placed into a maintenance fund for the memorial, per state regulations for a memorial placed on the grounds of the state Capitol, a news release said. Donations exceeding the $600,000 goal will fund educational scholarships for children of active, retired or deceased firefighters, and for spouses of deceased firefighters, and for minor expenses for the October memorial dedication.
In July, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation launched a campaign to create the much larger, more accessible and interactive memorial at the Capitol to give families, friends, co-workers and community members a permanent location to pay tribute to fallen firefighters.
"It's a great thing to be recognized for this type of service at the Capitol," said Klaith. "Whet they're building is fantastic."
Since 1881, 194 Minnesota firefighters have died in the line of duty. The new memorial will include a list of names of all of those firefighters.