A group of two dozen firefighters, VFW officials, family and friends turned out on a windy, rainy Wednesday afternoon to recognize and honor South County Fire’s own Dave “Bronco” Erickson as he received both the National and the State of Washington VFW award for Firefighter of the Year.
VFW Post 8870 Commander Rose Gilliland introduced Erickson and presented the National award certificate.
“Bronco is a giant amongst us as a public servant,” she said. “This award recognizes your exemplary record of courageous service to the community and the nation and your extraordinary commitment in keeping with the esteemed core values and traditions of the firefighter profession. You are a role model to all firefighters, and this honor reflects the proudest ideals of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Thanks to you for all you do every day to support your fellow firefighters, our fire chiefs and everyone in our community.”
State VFW Senior Vice Commander Chad Hassebroek then presented Erickson with the Golden Eagle, officially recognizing him as the Washington State VFW Firefighter of the Year.
The ceremony was held in the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park adjacent to Edmonds Fire Station 17, sacred ground for firefighters, and a place to which Erickson dedicated years of his life bringing into being.
While the memorial had been his vision and his passion for many years, it began in earnest in 2011 when Erickson personally traveled to New York City to pick up and escort back to Edmonds the one-ton steel I-beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, which now forms the centerpiece of the park. The beam stands on twin stainless steel towers, recalling the twin towers of the World Trade Center. It is flanked by two steel and glass panels also symbolizing the towers and composed of 3,000 individual glass facets honoring the 3,000 who died that day. Within the panels are 60 blue and 343 red facets arranged in an American Flag pattern to honor the police officers and firefighters who lost their lives as they fought to help and rescue victims. (Learn more about the symbolism in the memorial in our 2015 article here)
“We’ll never know which tower the beam came from,” said Erickson. “It was just part of the rubble, but it holds a special place in our hearts, and we are so very thankful to have had the honor to bring this piece to Snohomish County and specifically to Edmonds.”