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Fallen Kansas firefighters recognized in state ceremony

Firefighter Scott Walker of Wichita holds a red rose representing a fallen firefighter at ceremonies Sunday at Wichita's Kansas Firefighters Museum.
Firefighter Scott Walker of Wichita holds a red rose representing a fallen firefighter at ceremonies Sunday at Wichita's Kansas Firefighters Museum. Correspondent

More than 150 people gathered Sunday afternoon at the Kansas Firefighters Museum to pay tribute to Kansas firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

Flags fluttered in the wind while bagpipes played “Amazing Grace,” and area firefighters and law enforcement officers stood at attention.

A fire bell was rung for each firefighter who died. It rang 120 times on Sunday.

The names represent all areas of Kansas and records go back 130 years to the first firefighter who died — George Thompkins of Wichita. The most recent firefighters listed on the memorial wall are Ronnie W. Peek of Garden City, Clifford R. Sanders, Caney and Michael B. Corn of Conway Springs — all who died in 2015.

The Kansas Firefighters Museum, 1300 S. Broadway, stood as the backdrop for the ceremonies.

“Heavenly father, we bow before you today to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, protecting the citizens of their respective communities,” said fire chaplain Bill Nestleroad. “We mourn the loss of these true heroes from within our ranks who have given their life — while protecting our homes, lives and community.”

The South High School Madrigals performed “God Bless America.”

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell welcomed the crowd who sat in folding chairs around the memorial. Traffic on South Broadway was temporarily blocked from Lincoln to Zimmerly during the ceremony.

“It is hard to believe that this memorial was dedicated in 2001, the same fateful year America suffered its worst terriost attack in New York City, at the Pentegon and at a field just outside Shanksville, Pa.,” Longwell said. “This ceremony is a humble tribute to all Kansas firefighters who have bravely and selflessly served their cities, townships and rural communities across this great state. Each of the 120 names on this wall represents a son, a brother, a husband, father, friend and hero.”

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

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