Fallen First Responders Memorial Ceremony

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“This is a terrific ceremony that you have created for 1st Responders.”

Danny McKnight, COL, USA (Ret)
National Spokesperson, Operation Safety 91

I was asked a few hours ago by one of my firefighter Facebook friends and former Marine, Joel Daoust: I wondered if you’ve ever heard of/seen a table similar to a POW/MIA table for police or firefighters, specifically for a Fire/EMS Department Ball?

My response: Hi Joel, excellent question! I’ve been thinking of this for quite a while since there really is nothing out there for first responders and have wanted to develop something in conjunction with Operation Safety 91 (www.os91.com).

As you may know POW/MIA stand for Prisoner of War/Missing in Action and first responders, thankfully, do not fall into these categories. So, that would mean it would have to have a name that fits the reasoning. Something like: Fallen First Responder’s Ceremony which could involve a table and even something similar to the battle cross.

If you’d like I can hash something out and send it to you in the next couple of hours (script, table setting diagrams and First Responder Memorial Cross)- I’m in a creative mood anyway…

Joel: Awesome, Thanks so much…really looking forward to reading more of your book finally and putting much of it to great use with my fire-ems department!

And, ladies and gentlemen, here it is and it only took about four hours!

Script (download here) (shorter Hat Table Ceremony Script) (Colors Diagram to help explain the first descriptive paragraph of the script)

(Download First Responder Memorial Cross Stand Diagram here)

(Download Large Table Setup Diagram here and Small Table Setup Diagram here)

Many thanks to Joel Daoust for his insightful feedback in the creation of this ceremony.

(Optional) Four (or six) Honor Guard members (Commander- or three “Uncasers” and Police, Fire and EMS Memorial Color Bearers) can enter, Bearers carrying the cased memorial colors at Port Arms. All stop center, Bearers lower cased flagstaffs to parallel with ground, ferule under right arm pit. Commander (Uncasers) moves to colors to uncase (police, fire, then EMS or all three at same time) by sliding cover off and draping it over left arm. Bearers then unfurl colors until complete with spade parallel to floor. Commander (Uncasers) move to the side while Bearers raise flagstaffs back to Port Arms, post colors (complete posting sequence) in their own stands (with US and state colors or on their own behind/next to the First Responder Missing Man Table) and then Bearers and Commander (Uncasers) depart.

(Optional) honor guard members then enter with the three ceremonial first responder service covers in order (police, fire, EMS) and place them on the empty plates on the table, depart and return with the items and then overturn the glasses. (If using only a single place setting table, do not use any covers.)

Hat Bearers can enter with a single rifle, pike pole or fire axe bearer to help create the First Responder Memorial Cross (see diagram www.thedrillmaster/downloads).

Light candle on table and then begin reading:

As you entered the dining area, you may have noticed our special table. Set for three (one), the empty places represent Americans who have fallen in the line of duty- protecting others.

While members of our military, our nation’s heroes, answer the call to serve the cause of freedom around the world, our other heroes, a select few American citizens across the country answer another call, one of daily self-sacrifice to protect others. These heroes are the ones rushing into burning buildings, running toward gunfire and giving lifesaving care; our nation’s first responders: law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

 

Please allow me to explain the meaning of our special table, and join me for a moment of silence and a silent toast at the end.

Our Fallen First Responder Table is square, showing the many facets of our first responders: father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter and citizen hero.

The white tablecloth symbolizes the purity of their motives when answering the alarm.

The red rose represents our love for our fallen comrades.

(Optional) honor guard member enters with Bible and places it on the table; Bible is opened to Psalm 91

The Bible, open to Psalm 91, represents the strength gained through faith in our God, who sustains and protects us.

Pause here until BHG member places Bible

The slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter taste that we have after losing a comrade or loved one.

(Optional) honor guard member enters with vase containing red rose adorned with a blue ribbon and places it on the table

The blue ribbon represents our trust in and loyalty to our comrades present today.

Pause here until honor guard member places vase at center of table

The pinch of salt represents the tears we have shed for our fallen comrades.

The glasses are inverted representing their inability to share this evening’s toast.

(Optional) honor guard members raise glasses, turn them over, place them back on the table and depart

Pause until honor guard members have departed

The chairs are empty – they are missing…

(silent moment)

Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America’s first responders and to the success of efforts to minimize line of duty deaths.

(Optional) Taps can be sounded here after the silent toast

Please be seated.

(Optional) Four (or six) Honor Guard members (Commander- or three “Uncasers” and Police, Fire and EMS Memorial Color Bearers) can enter, Bearers carrying the cased memorial colors at Port Arms. All stop center, Bearers lower cased flagstaffs to parallel with ground, ferule under right arm pit. Commander (Uncasers) moves to colors to uncase (police, fire, then EMS or all three at same time) by sliding cover off and draping it over left arm. Bearers then unfurl colors until complete with spade parallel to floor. Commander (Uncasers) move to the side while Bearers raise flagstaffs back to Port Arms, post colors (complete posting sequence) in their own stands (with US and state colors or on their own behind/next to the First Responder Missing Man Table) and then Bearers and Commander (Uncasers) depart.

(Optional) honor guard members then enter with the three ceremonial first responder service covers in order (police, fire, EMS) and place them on the empty plates on the table, depart and return with the items and then overturn the glasses. (If using only a single place setting table, do not use any covers.)

Hat Bearers can enter with a single rifle, pike pole or fire axe bearer to help create the First Responder Memorial Cross (see diagram www.thedrillmaster/downloads).

Light candle on table and then begin reading:

As you entered the dining area, you may have noticed our special table. Set for three (one), the empty places represent Americans who have fallen in the line of duty- protecting others.

While members of our military, our nation’s heroes, answer the call to serve the cause of freedom around the world, our other heroes, a select few American citizens across the country answer another call, one of daily self-sacrifice to protect others. These heroes are the ones rushing into burning buildings, running toward gunfire and giving lifesaving care; our nation’s first responders: law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

 

Please allow me to explain the meaning of our special table, and join me for a moment of silence and a silent toast at the end.

Our Fallen First Responder Table is square, showing the many facets of our first responders: father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter and citizen hero.

The white tablecloth symbolizes the purity of their motives when answering the alarm.

The red rose represents our love for our fallen comrades.

(Optional) honor guard member enters with Bible and places it on the table; Bible is opened to Psalm 91

The Bible, open to Psalm 91, represents the strength gained through faith in our God, who sustains and protects us.

Pause here until BHG member places Bible

The slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter taste that we have after losing a comrade or loved one.

(Optional) honor guard member enters with vase containing red rose adorned with a blue ribbon and places it on the table

The blue ribbon represents our trust in and loyalty to our comrades present today.

Pause here until honor guard member places vase at center of table

The pinch of salt represents the tears we have shed for our fallen comrades.

The glasses are inverted representing their inability to share this evening’s toast.

(Optional) honor guard members raise glasses, turn them over, place them back on the table and depart

Pause until honor guard members have departed

The chairs are empty – they are missing…

(silent moment)

Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America’s first responders and to the success of efforts to minimize line of duty deaths.

(Optional) Taps can be sounded here after the silent toast

Please be seated.

 

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