How Can I Pay Tribute?

Each year hundreds of men and women who serve and protect our communities are lost in the line of duty. Police officers and firefighters put the safety and well-being of their neighborhoods first when they go to work everyday and some pay the ultimate price. Tragedy strikes the entire community when public servants fall. Families and friends must come to terms with the difficult meaning behind a loved one’s service to the world. And a good community has a debt to pay to these everyday heroes.

It is in these situations that you ask “How Can I Pay Tribute?” There are many different ways to show sympathy and respect to fallen service members.

Remembering FirefightersSending Flowers

At the time of the funeral, sending flowers is a wonderful expression of heartfelt respect. They provide a focal point and natural beauty in a trying circumstance. Flowers are an easy way to reach out and are viewed in many different customs and cultures as a sign of sympathy.

Moment of Silence

After a community has experienced loss, normal activities often have to resume quickly. If you are in a leadership position in an organization, big or small, it can be timely and comforting to suggest a moment of silence to remember the fallen. At the next ball game, church service, or even at your book club, publicly acknowledging these events and offering a moment of collective reverence can mean a great deal to everyone.

Candlelight VigilCandlelight Vigil

Organizing a simple meeting in a public space where people light a candle as a symbol of hope can bring peace and solidarity in an uncertain time. This is not the time for involved conversations or providing elaborate refreshments. Maintain an air of decorum and select a place that was meaningful to the lost or holds significance to mourners.


Offering support to families is a way to honor the deceased in a very real and tangible way. A collection for funeral costs or, on a larger scale, for a public memorial can be a way for an entire community to help pay tribute. Often involving a local bank to accept the donations in the name of the lost can simplify the process for the donors and the recipients.

Bring About Awareness

You may not be able to change a bad situation but you can encourage others with a positive awareness of good deeds. Whether it is wearing an awareness ribbon dedicated to the cause or  creating an opportunity for others to acknowledge lost members of the community, small deeds can be appreciated by those suffering.

An uplifting example includes two young girls in Houston, Texas, who gave the profits of their lemonade stand to benefit local firefighters who perished in a 5-alarm fire. This collection may have been financially small but was huge in bringing about community awareness.

When tragedy reaches into our lives, often it is helpful to the grieving process to reach out to those around you.

There is great strength in numbers and
it is always an appropriate gesture for a community to honor those that serve it.

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