Photo by Jim Mahoney/©Boston Herald
Courtesy of ©Smith & Warren Badge Co.
The badge of a fireman is the the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection . . . a badge of honor; it's story and tradition is hundreds of years old.
When a courageous band of Crusaders, known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the Holy Land, they encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but horrible device of war, it wrought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters for The Cross.
The Saracen's weapon was fire.
As the Crusaders advanced on the walls of the Saracens' city they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly inflammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming tree into their midst.
Hundreds of Knights were burned alive. Others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful fiery deaths.
Thus, these men became the first firefighters; and the first of a long list of courageous fire-fighters and first aiders. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded each hero a badge of honor, a cross similar to the one firefighters wear today.
Since the Knights of John lived for close to four centuries on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea named Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.
The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his or her life for you, just as the Crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago.
The Maltese Cross is a firefighter's badge of honor, signifying that he or she works in courage, pride and honor - a ladder rung away from death.
Photo & text by ©Robert P. Mitts
On September 27, 1998, shortly after 2
A Fire Fighter's Prayer
When I am called to duty, God,
Help me embrace a little child
Enable me to be alert
I want to fill my calling
And if according to my fate
Subject Gallery Subject Gallery 2 Home
Sagamore Street fire photograph by Jim Mahoney/©Boston Herald. Used by permission of Jim Mahoney; photo can not be used without written permission of the photographer. The Boston Herald - http://www.bostonherald.com/
The Maltese Cross Badge, photo courtesy of
Stationhouse Leathers and Gear web site - http://www.stationhouse.com/
The History of The Maltese Cross, courtesy of
The Public Safety Net web site - http://www.publicsafetynet.net/
Brooklyn fire/Captain Johnston photo by ©Robert P. Mitts. Used by permission of Robert Mitts; photo can not be used without the written permission from the photographer. To see more of Robert's amazing fire photos, click to - http://www.fdnyphotography.com/
A Fire Fighter's Prayer, courtesy of
the Boston Fire Department. Used by permission of Curt Holzendorf.