Minnesota's flags to fly at half-staff Sunday in honor of fallen firefighters

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Flags across Minnesota will fly at half-staff on Sunday as the state remembers its fallen firefighters.

They'll be lowered on the orders of Gov. Mark Dayton, who has declared Sept. 27 Minnesota Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day.

According to Dayton's proclamation, all U.S. and Minnesota flags will remain at half-staff at state and federal properties from sunrise to sunset.

Meanwhile, around 1,000 people will gather for a memorial ceremony at the capitol grounds in St. Paul to honor all the men and women who have died serving Minnesota's fire departments, the Pioneer Press says.

The paper says the descendants of firefighters who died in the line of duty as long ago as 1900 will be on hand to receive flags on behalf of the fallen.

According to the Minnesota Fallen Firefighters Memorial Association, 210 firefighters have lost their lives on the job since 1881, where the organization's records start.

That includes two who died this year – Rice Lake Volunteer FD veteran Randy Hiti in February, and Shane Clifton in St. Paul last month.

Hiti suffered a "medical issue" while responding to a call, and Clifton had a "massive heart attack" while on duty at his station.

Minnesota's Fallen Firefighter Memorial Day has its roots in the days and weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, when then-Preisdent George W. Bush signed legislation ordering all flags at federal buildings and grounds lowered to half-staff, Dayton's proclamation says.

Since then, it has been a national tradition observed every year, with Minnesota creating its own version in 2009.

Former classmates honor Clifton

On Saturday night, Clifton's former classmates at South St. Paul High School honored the fallen firefighter at their 20th high school reunion, KSTP reports.

They created a memorial with a pair of boots and photos. Classmates also plan to start a scholarship in memory of the four students in their class who have died, the news station notes.

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