LBPD officers fold a flag at the annual Long Beach firefighter and police officer memorial ceremony. Photos by Keeley Smith.
Long Beach police officers, firefighters, and the families of fire and police personnel who died while serving the city gathered Tuesday at the leafy foot of Chestnut Ave. near City Hall to pay respects to the 41 Long Beach service members who’ve died in the line of duty.
At 9:00 AM at a podium flanked by flags and wreaths, Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) Chief Mike DuRee described the badge LBFD firefighters wear every day as “a symbol to some, but for those who wear it, it represents far more.”
“It represents a willingness to sacrifice self in service to another,” DuRee said of the members in the 116-year-old fire department. “It represents a willingness to run toward danger while others flee. It represents the names you will see on this monument behind me, and the sacrifice they made in service to our community.”
The annual presentation included speeches by Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) Chief Robert Luna and DuRee, as well as tribute remarks by LBPD and LBFD deputy chiefs, a 21-gun salute, and a performance of Taps.
Duree said that in the U.S., hundreds of firefighters answer fire alarms in an effort to protect their communities. He mentioned the 13 firefighters in the 116 years of the LBFD that have “paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
“We will never forget that sacrifice,” DuRee said.
Chief Luna spoke of the the 28 officers who’ve died in the 127-year history of the LBPD.
“The foundation of both firefighters and police officers is courage and selfless service,” Luna said. “Those we honor today are the epitome of selflessness, because they gave their lives in service to others. For that, we thank and honor them and their families.”
The most recent firefighter death was that of Theodore Klobuchar, who died in 1974. The most recent police officer deaths were in 2000 and 2003, involving Daryle W. Black and Edward R. Davenport, respectively.
The family members of Black and Davenport were in the audience Wednesday, paying their respects. In fact, LBPD Deputy Chief Michael Beckman said, the son of Davenport, Lt. Darren Davenport, currently works for the LBPD.
“The fact that we have fallen officers who still have relatives that work for us [...] makes it very important to remember the sacrifice that the officers and firefighters have made,” Beckman said.
The ceremony closed with the 21-gun salute and Taps rendition, as well as the tolling of a firefighter bell. The bell, LBFD Deputy Chief Rich Brandt explained, represented the death of the department’s members and their commitment to protecting the community.
“This is what we do, this is our chosen profession, and this is the tradition of a firefighter,” Brandt said.