SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Tuesday morning, in front of the state capitol, was the 29th Annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Medal of Honor Ceremony.
Four firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2021 were honored:
- Michael Pickering | firefighter, paramedic, Chicago Fire Department
- MaShawn Plummer | firefighter, Chicago Fire Department
- Garrett Ramos | Lieutenant, Sterling Fire Department
- Mehdi Mourad | Firefighter, Wabash Fire Protection District
“Today we honor those who are among our very bravest in the state,” Governor J.B. Pritzker, in attendance, said. “Those four souls we honor today carried forth that spirit of service, on and off the job. That’s the thing about a profession like this– you can’t clock out of what it requires.”
Pritzker then took time to make remarks about each man:
“From giving driving lessons to leading family vacations… Michael showed up when it mattered most. Michael’s larger-than-life presence now leaves a gaping hole in his community, but his essence, one of fearlessness, kindness, and an abundance of love, will transcend.”
“Like Spider-Man, from MaShawn’s treasured Marvel Comics, he was a superhero, springing into action to rescue those in harm’s way. An Englewood native and the first in his family to graduate from college… MaShawn always put his family first.”
“Garrett was a natural leader, always uplifting those around him with contagious laughter and selfless character. He loved travel, basketball, and the white caps of the Atlantic, but nothing compared to his love for his wife and his two daughters.”
“At only 21 years old, Mehdi always dreamed big. At the core of it all was his dedication to helping others and giving back to his community. Mehdi embodied the definition of a good Samaritan: unselfish, compassionate, and lion-hearted… he was an accomplished young man and wise beyond his years.”
Pritzker, accompanied by the Illinois honor guard, placed a symbolic wreath at the foot of the fallen firefighter statue, located in front of the state capitol.
Secretary of State Jesse White also spoke to the crowd in Springfield.
“When I think of a firefighter, I think of a hero,” White said. “It takes a special person to accept this wonderful, wonderful job.”
Before concluding his remarks, White said this will be his last time coming before the people of Illinois as Secretary of State, a position he has held for 23 years.
“I always look forward to attending this event, but this is the last time I will be with you,” he said. “I do want the firefighters to know that the people of the State of Illinois admire and honor your giving and caring spirit. And appreciate the fact that not only have you taken on the job, you’ve taken on the responsibility that goes with it.”