A few tears were shed, a few smiles were shared, and many hugs were exchanged, at the Missouri Public Safety Weekend Heroes Tribute Gala held Saturday night, October 22. Nearly 100 public safety individuals, family members and survivors, all gathered at the Lodge of Four Seasons in Osage Beach to honor Missouri public safety individuals who gave their lives in the line of duty.
A prayer started off the evening and the posting of colors was done by the Missouri EMS Funeral Response Team Color Guard. The national anthem was performed by professional trumpet player Stephen Wright of Chicago, IL. A roll call of heroes, honoring 14 public safety individuals, that gave their lives in the line of duty in 2015 and 2016 were read. As each name was read, a candle was lit in their honor by members of the fire, law and EMS funeral response teams. At the end of the roll call, three additional candles were lit; one for EMS, one for fire, and one for law enforcement, to honor all public safety individuals in Missouri that have given the ultimate sacrifice.
The key note address was given by Mrs. Rose Mary McCormick, from Staten Island, New York. Mrs McCormick’s son Timothy gave his life in the line of duty in Indianapolis, IN, in 2013. She shared her emotions, her grief and how she coped with the loss of her son. Her very moving talk was followed by a standing ovation honoring her and her son.
Executive Director Eric Johnson from Supporting Heroes’ shared information about Supporting Heroes and the expansion of their organization to Missouri in March of this year, and introduced the Missouri director for Supporting Heroes, Mr. Brian Zinanni.
One of the most moving parts of the evening was the closing ceremony. Ms. Lannett Stewart, a surviving daughter of firefighter Ronald Stephen, whose last call was September 25, 2010 in Lynn, Indiana, and the survivor outreach coordinator for Supporting Heroes led a very moving ceremony. The commanders for the Missouri EMS Funeral Team lit their candles from the three candles which had been previously lit to honor all public safety individuals, they then passed the flame throughout the crowd while photos were displayed of the honorees.
A breakfast on Sunday morning with the survivors sharing stories closed out the Missouri Public Safety Weekend.
Many favorable responses from those who attended have been made. Several have indicated their interest in assisting should a similar tribute be held at some point in the future.