Firefighters who died in the line of duty honored at the State Capitol
AUSTIN, Texas - The American flag hung high next to raised ladders Wednesday morning with Texas firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice, in mind.
"Ultimately, something happened, an accident happened, or something happened in which that firefighter gave their life to protect the lives of others," said Chris Barron, Director of State Firefighters and Fire Marshals Association of Texas.
That's exactly what Jalen Smith did on the night of November 30th.
The 20-year-old Jackson Heights firefighter and two others, were on their way to a scene of a wreck, when they crashed. Jalen's mom says her son's death was not in vain.
"I always have to tell myself my baby died doing what he loved because he always wanted to be a firefighter," said Charlean Mosley, Jalen's mother.
Co-workers and loved ones say he had an infectious personality and he was years beyond his age.
"My dad raised my son, and he raised him to be old fashioned and my son, even though he was 20 he was an old man, he was a super old man, "said Charlean.
Jalen's name was among the 21 people honored on an extension of the current memorial at the state capitol. Organizers say it took a lot of hard work and money to put it together, but it was well worth the time.
"Making sure that those families and those firefighters and fire departments are honored here, by putting their names on this monument that will be here forever," said Barron.
Charles Richardson and his family came all the way from North Texas to honor their loved one.
"My father was a fire chief in a small town in Alvarado Texas and passed away after a fire up there," said Charles Richardson.
The time these firefighters served varied from decades to just a few short years.
Although they cannot be replaced, patrons can be constantly reminded of these heroes when they take a walk at the capitol.
"They were there, not for themselves, but they were there for others in the community," said Barron.
"I'm crying tears of joy, but Jalen he just continues to make me happy," said Charlean.
To build this monument the state firefighters and fire marshal's association raised more than 90,000 dollars on their own, over $200,000 altogether after getting an incorrect estimate from the State Preservation Board.