The new First Responders Memorial was unveiled in the Rainsville City Park on Saturday.
After starting the project in April, the First Responders Committee was able to complete the work in just over a month with the help of approximately 60 sponsors and volunteers that provided donations or supplies.
“We wouldn’t have been able to have done this if it wasn’t for the generosity of the community,” Kayron Guffey, project manager, said during Saturday’s event.
The memorial, set to honor the personal sacrifice of a fallen or current first responder, is the first of its kind in DeKalb County, and possibly Northeast Alabama, Sen. Steve Livingston said.
Guffey, along with Councilman Brandon Freeman, Henagar Mayor Lee Davis, Livingston, House Majority Leader Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, Fire Chief Willimac Wright and Police Chief Kevin Smith all took time to speak at the event.
“Today, as I read the list of donations, gifts and gift cards, it’s very clear that community leaders and local businesses are ready to lead by example,” Davis said.
Guffey said Davis was instrumental in fundraising for the memorial after challenging cities in DeKalb County to “turn your town blue” throughout May. The First Responder Committee was able to sell more than 200 blue ribbons around the county that were placed on businesses and buildings throughout the towns.
“Thank you to all that have been part of these efforts to make our appreciation felt by those that we honor today,” he said. “It’s not just a few days of the year we value our first responders but every single day.”
Wright emphasized the sacrifice isn’t just made by the responders, but their parents, spouse, children and all loved ones.
“They probably sacrifice as much or more than we do,” Wright said. “We thank you for your sacrifice in allowing your family to support your communities.”
Wright and Smith unveiled the memorial, which has the insignias of first responders and law enforcement. The stone reads, “In honor of first responders. Bravery is not the absence of fear but action in the face of fear.” Two verses from the Bible sit below each insignia and read: “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13 and “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send. And who will go for us? Then said I, here I am: send me” Isaiah 6:8.
After the unveiling ceremony, refreshments were served and names were drawn for 27 raffle prizes for active duty first responders. Several gift cards and products from local businesses were given away, along with tickets for Dollywood and kayaking were distributed to DeKalb County first responders that were present at the ceremony.
For information about the newly constructed and unveiled memorial, visit the Facebook page, 2019 First Responder Memorial.