FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Fourteen firefighters who died in the line of duty were recognized during the Kentucky Fallen Firefighter Memorial’s 20th anniversary.
Local officials and first responders from across the Commonwealth joined the families of Kentucky’s fallen heroes for the remembrance ceremony at Juniper Hill Park on Wednesday.
“Those who enter public service, I think they answer a higher calling, and I believe those who enter public safety answer an even higher calling,” said City of Frankfort Mayor Layne Wilkerson.
The fourteen names etched onto the granite wall of the memorial were unveiled during the service. This is the largest number of names ever unveiled in a single ceremony, according to event organizers.
Most of the firefighters honored on Wednesday died in the line of duty in 2020.
Monica Gayheart said her grandfather, Curley Moore, died in 1973 of a heart attack while out on a call. 48 years later, his records have finally come to light and allowed the state to recognize his service at the state’s memorial.
“It's just wonderful to have somewhere to go and be proud of him and show your support for others," Gayheart said.
“There are no more essential workers than our first responders: Those who run into a burning building; those who get up every morning, put on their uniforms, and leave the safety of their homes and families willing to risk their lives for others,” said Gov. Andy Beshear.
Gayheart said seeing her grandfather’s name on the memorial means the world to her family.
“[My mom] was so torn up about it. She thought everybody had forgotten,” she said. “This was something to see today. It was awesome.”
“While we know their absence leaves a huge void and breaks our heart, I pray some of that void may be filled with joy and pride knowing they had a selfless and giving heart,” said Nathan Mulvey with the Kentucky Association of Fire Chiefs.
Kellie Florence said her dad, Ronald Ingram, had that kind of heart.
He passed away in March.
Florence said she didn’t know the memorial existed before they were invited to attend the ceremony.
“The love and energy we felt today was just amazing. It was overwhelming,” she said. “I think this will be a place for our family to come to be a little closer to my dad.”
As each firefighter’s name was spoken out loud, families were invited to walk up and receive a rose, crystal plaque and memorial blanket in honor of their loved one.
There are more than 200 names engraved on the Kentucky Firefighter Memorial.
Wednesday's ceremony celebrated the lives and legacies of:
- Barbara Bordenkircher, Wickliffe Rural Fire Department
- Dale Brown, Covington Fire Department
- Gerald Cox, Priceville Fire Department
- Virgil Craven, Fulton Fire Department
- Walter Gay, Berea Fire Department
- Arthur Henley, New Haven Fire Department
- Ronald Ingram, Woodford County Fire Department
- Jonathan Jacobs, Georgetown Fire Department
- Johnnie Jessie, Greensburg-Green County Fire Department
- Charles Keller, Louisville Fire Department
- John Martin, Louisville Fire Department
- James McKenzie, Pikeville Fire Department
- Curley Moore, Left Beaver Fire Department
- Charles Wilburn, Kentucky Division of Forestry