E-Town Business Honoring Fallen Firefighters
When a memorial to Kentucky firefighters killed in the line of duty is unveiled in Frankfort this year, a family-owned Elizabethtown business will have been the cornerstone.
Roy Keith Jr., President of Keith Monument, designed the memorial, which honors each of Kentucky’s fallen firefighters. He said the material for the monument will arrive in Elizabethtown at the end of April, and he hopes the monument will be ready for unveiling sometime in the summer.
Elizabethtown Fire Chief Rick Games is president of the Kentucky Firefighters Association, which came up with the idea. Games said the monument is the result of cooperation and desire of fire departments from all over the state.
The memorial, made of black granite with red granite insets, will be 30 feet long and 20 feet tall and will contain about 260 names. The two-foot square center obelisk, which in itself weighs 8,985 pounds, will be topped by a steel Maltese cross, the international symbol for fire fighting. The obelisk will feature images of firefighters etched into the granite and will be surrounded by a plaza and sidewalk. Keith said the memorial will be erected in Juniper Hills Park, Frankfort’s main city park.
Keith said he felt honored to design the monument and have it built at Keith Monument, which has served Elizabethtown continuously since 1900.
One of Elizabethtown’s own firefighters will be memorialized in the granite – Leroy “Mike” Miller, who was killed July 3, 1970, during a blaze in the old Firestone building, now a warehouse for Bean Publishing. Games said the memorial is a nice tribute to Miller and each firefighter whose name joins his on the stone.
“It’s very fitting. Firefighting is an honorable profession, whether volunteer or paid.” Games said, “The fire doesn’t know the difference if you’re a volunteer or paid. We unfortunately have a name on the wall, and we’d like to see his name in a place of honor for all ages. It’s something all of the firefighters in the state can be proud of and all the citizens can be proud of.”
Keith said his company has designed several memorials, averaging one large project such as this each year. Other monuments have included a Fort Campbell memorial for the more than 200 soldiers killed over Gander, Newfoundland, as well as the North Hardin High School bus crash memorial, the Korean War Memorial in Louisville’s McNeeley Park, and the Colonel Harland Sanders Memorial.
Keith noted that a new memorial for the bus crash victims is in the works, with one-third of the cost funded by the monument company, a third from the cemetery, and hopes of the rest being funded by Mother’s Against Drunk Driving.
“When you get into this arena, it’s kind of a special niche,” Keith said. “There are not many places you can go to get something like this done. The materials and expertise are so specialized , it would be hard to go to a contractor and get something like this made. “And most monument companies are not of the size where they can take on something this large.” Keith added, “It’s kind of a special craft.”
Courtesy of The Daily News.