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Libertytown Volunteer's Name Added to National Fallen Firefighter Memorial
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By Susie Nicol

EMMITSBURG -- The name of a Libertytown volunteer firefighter is included on a plaque at the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial.

Michael "Pappy" Powers answered his final alarm on June 25, 2019. He was assisting Libertytown Volunteer Fire Department at a crash scene when he collapsed. The engine he drove that day is prominently displayed in front of the memorial.

Powers, 70, was a volunteer for more than 50 years. He was involved with Brunswick Vol. Fire Co. and Carroll Manor Vol. Fire Co. before he and his family moved to the Libertytown area.

The plaque bearing Powers' name was unveiled Saturday night during the annual candlelight vigil. His family and some firefighters from his company were in attendance. The engine he drove on the final call is prominently displayed in front of the memorial.

Welcoming the nearly 1.000 family members to the ceremony Sunday morning, County Executive Jan Gardner said it's a day of great pain and great pride. "...We lost one of our own. Michael Powers was a longtime volunteer with the Libertytown Vol. Fire Department..."

Gardner added that just two months ago, the county suffered another devastating loss with the death of Battalion Chief Josh Laird.

She told the families and colleagues of the fallen that they are now part of the county, "We wrap our arms around you..."

During the ceremony, Powers' name was announced by Bob Jacobs, of Frederick, a past president of the Maryland State Firemen's Association.

The family was escorted to the front for presentations by Chip Jewell, president of Libertytown Vol. Fire Co., who was with Powers on his final call.

Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe presented Powers' widow with a rose, badge and a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol and the NFFF Memorial.

When officials cancelled last year's ceremony due to COVID, it was conducted virtually.

“Unfortunately, due to ongoing COVID concerns, the public will not be here this weekend,” said Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Nonetheless, Siarnicki said it’s important that those who gave the ultimate sacrifice receive the proper recognition.

Siarnicki said his staff has been busy tending to details to help families and colleagues of the fallen heroes. Support sessions with counselors and fellow survivors were held Saturday.

While the number of pipers, escorts, singers and other assistants have been reduced this year, Siarnicki said the tributes to the fallen heroes will continue as in the past.

The ongoing concerns about the pandemic continue to be of utmost importance.

“All fire service participants are fully vaccinated, and family members were asked to be vaccinated or show a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arriving on campus,” Siarnicki said, adding that the foundation is adhering to FEMA and DHS safety guidelines.
Masks also must be worn, and families and their escorts will be socially distanced from others.

While things may be a bit different this year, the respect and honor bestowed on the fallen firefighters and their loved ones will be the same.

Laird will be recognized during next year's ceremony, tentatively set for the spring.

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