‘Red Line of Courage’ is on local flag
Although many community members have been inquisitive about the non-traditional U.S. flag flying outside the Minneota Fire Hall, it should be noted that it actually has significant meaning.
And that meaning has special meaning to San Diego, CA native John Winters, who has been a Minneota fireman for the past two years. The flag features black and white stripes with one red stripe in the middle.
And the traditional blue background where the stars are placed is also black.
This type of flag is referred to the “Thin Red Line of Courage” and is a symbol of solidarity used by fire departments to honor firefighters across the country that have died in the line of duty.
“I heard about the flag and went online and found it on a site,” said Winters, who moved to Minneota four years ago and currently works for Titan Machinery in Marshall.
“I’m from California and think about the fires out there all the time. My mom still lives in San Diego and she isn’t close to where the fires are, but she tells me about them when I talk to her.”
The flag is offered free to fire departments, which only are required to pay for the shipping. Winters took it upon himself to order the flag for the Minneota Fire Department.
It took four or five weeks to be shipped and it arrived in Minneota approximately three weeks ago.
“I asked (Fire Chief) Jeff Sussner if we could hang it inside the firehouse,” Winters told.
“He said we should put it up on the flagpole outside.”
According to the United State Fire Administration, there have been 65 firefighters killed in the line of duty so far in 2018, including five battling wildfires in California.
The most recent firefighter death in the California fires occurred on Aug. 26. “Whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., firefighters are there when the alarm goes off,” said Winters.
“I’ve dedicated my time to this community because it’s been so good to us and I want to do what I can to help keep it safe.”
The National Firefighters Association describes the reason behind the flag: “Firefighters place their lives second to those they are protecting.
They are forced to face their own fears and grasp for every ounce of courage to perform a necessary task.
The ‘Thin Red Line of Courage’ represents the last ounce of courage firefighters have to conquer their darkest fears in order to save and protect life and property.”