Hello, from District 2. The 2020 annual fire and EMS funeral team conference were on October 23-24 in Lake Ozark, Missouri. Instructors from four states with the National Honor Guard Academy made us realize we had muscles that we did not use very often. From rifles to axes, color guard procedures to folding the flag. It was a great two days of honor guard training, with nearly forty in attendance. I wish to thank all that attended and the FFAM newsletter for supporting the event by sharing the information with everyone. Also to Brian Zinanni and the Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team for sponsoring our keynote speaker as she traveled many miles to share her story.
The speaker was Ms. Juliann Ashcraft, wife of Andrew Ashcraft. Andrew lost his life along with nineteen fellow firefighters in the Yarnall Hill fires in Prescott, Arizona, in 2013. He was 27 years old. The fire funeral team here in Missouri loaded up their trailers and responded to Arizona to honor and assist with the visitations and funerals in 2013. At just 29 years old, she lost her high school sweetheart. In an instant, she was alone with four children.
She did a round table on Saturday afternoon with a good group attending. She shared information on how teams could assist families before, during, and after the visitation and funeral. At the annual banquet, she gave a very inspiring talk about her life during and after Andrews’s death. We had tears in our eyes one minute and laughing and smiling the next. I wish to thank the FFAM Board President Chief Hoover, and District 14 Assistant Director Glenn Dittmar for assisting in presenting Ms. Ashcraft with a replica of our Missouri kneeling firefighter.
Sometimes we do not realize what impact we can have on supporting our fellow firefighters and EMS families in their time of need. She made us realize the funeral is not the last thing a family may need. She stated she had a “village” that helped her with whatever she needed after the funeral. An incredibly special lady. You can hear her speak if you go to youtube and pull up the 2019 National Fallen firefighter Christmas tree lighting.
It was a very special weekend of fellowship as the fire and EMS worked together to honor our fire and EMS individuals with respect, honor, and dignity. Next year the weekend will be October 22-23, 2021, in Lake Ozark Missouri. More information will be coming soon when everything is in place, as several things are planned. All are welcome.
Have you stopped by the memorial lately? Something else is going up in the parking lot at the museum. It is dedicated to one person that had the passion to believe in the memorial and the education museum. More to come!
I hope that you have checked out ways that you can help in getting this education center/museum completed. If every firefighter in Missouri gave just $25, we could open the doors to the museum, sharing our fire history with all those that wish to learn and stop by.
I have been mowing the museum/education center yard for part of the summer, and I cannot believe how many people stop there, even during the week. Many times, they come over, and I stop mowing or weed eating, and we talk. I wish to share one thing. One day when I was pulling weeds out of the bricks, a mini-van stopped with Ohio plates. They saw the kneeling firefighter going down I-70 and pulled in. He was a firefighter, and before they left, three of the folks were kneeling or laying on the bricks, helping me pull weeds.
Our memorial is an incredibly special place. I hope that you mark your calendar for May 15-16, 2021, for the Missouri fallen firefighter memorial weekend. We hope that very shortly, the doors will open, and we can share our Missouri history and honor those that have made that history.
Till next time be safe, and always remember, strive for perfection and expect excellence.