Fallen Firefighters Memorial held in downtown Dyersburg
It was a busy day in downtown Dyersburg on Friday morning, with several events overlapping on the Historic Courthouse Square. In the midst of the activity, residents of Dyersburg paused to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice at the fourth-annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial.
The solemn ceremony is a moving tribute to the brave men who don their uniforms each morning with the knowledge that they may not return home that evening. The Dyersburg Fire Department hosts the annual memorial in honor of three local firemen who died in the line of duty.
Byron M. Robb has the distinction of being the first Dyersburg fireman known to have died in the line of duty. However, Robb's name was the third to be added to the monument located at the door of Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Dyersburg. His story was discovered just before the memorial last fall. His name is now chiseled into the smooth granite of the marker, with members of the DFD hoping no more names will need to be added.
Robb was killed Sept. 14, 1935, while extinguishing a truck fire at the city dump in Southtown. While Robb and another fireman were fighting the fire, a gas tank exploded. Robb succumbed to his injuries later that same day. The other fireman eventually recovered from his injuries.
On Jan. 12, 1942, tragedy struck again when Dyersburg firemen William "Bill" L. Dudley and Pratt Fletcher died from injuries sustained in a hotel fire in downtown Dyersburg.
The Fallen Firefighters Memorial was begun in the autumn of 2009 as an Eagle Scout Project of Luis Portillo.
Friday's memorial began with a march featuring active, retired and volunteer firemen and honored guests of the department. The parade began at the location of the original Dyersburg Fire Department at the end of Market Street - the very site that all three firemen left to answer their last call - to the present Fire Station No. 1, located at 216 S. Church St. and the home of DFD firefighters today.
The ceremony, held in the driveway of the fire station, featured an invocation by DFD Chaplain Joe Wright, the posting of the colors by the DFD Honor Guard and remarks from Dyersburg Fire Chief Bob Veal, State Rep. Bill Sanderson, City Alderman Bob Kirk and Capt. Rusty Hilliard. DFD DR/OP James Mosley sang the national anthem as the flag was posted and "Amazing Grace" later in the ceremony.
The touching Bell Ceremony brought home the message of the memorial. The crowd was silent as the rich tones of the old-fashioned fire bell rang out across the quiet morning.
The Fireman's Prayer concluded the service.
"When I am called to duty, God, whenever flames may rage; Give me strength to save some life, whatever be its age. Help me embrace a little child before it is too late; Or save an older person from the horror of that fate. Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout; And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out. I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me; To guard my every neighbor and protect his property. And if, according to my fate, I am to lose my life; Please bless with your protecting hands my children and my wife."
A luncheon followed the ceremony for firefighters, their families and guests of the event.