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Letter: Help firefighters find George Carleton's relatives

To the editor,

Since 1881, 206 Minnesota firefighters have died in the line of duty.

In 2011, the Minnesota FireService Foundation launched an initiative to move the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial from the baggage claim area at MSP International Airport and create a larger, more accessible and interactive memorial on the grounds of the state capitol.

The fire community is extremely proud that we reached our initial goal of $600,000 to make this happen, and that it was funded primarily by our state's firefighters all across Minnesota.

This concerted effort means the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial will be built on the grounds of the State Capitol later this year, giving families, friends, co-workers and community members a permanent location to pay tribute to these men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. We expect up to 4,000 people to attend the dedication ceremony to unveil the new memorial on Sept. 30, including hundreds of family members. But the memorial effort's next-­of-­kin records are far from complete.

To ensure that every deceased firefighter's families are represented at this important event and will receive a flag flown over the capitol to commemorate the dedication, the state's fire community is undertaking a campaign to reach out to and identify at least one family member of each of the 206 Minnesota firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1881.

The Minnesota Fire Service Foundation is working to identify family members of more than 100 of our state's fallen firefighters, including one from the South Metro: George Carleton (year of death: 1892). We're asking relatives, or anyone with knowledge of relatives, to contact Nyle Zikmund, Spring Lake Park-­Blaine-­Mounds View fire chief, at 612-­860-­7442 or nzikmund@sbm no later than Sept. 5, 2012.

-- George Esbensen

President, Minnesota Fire Service Foundation