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Charles Sparks and The Band of Brothers

Firemen who were in the cortege bringing Charles Sparks home for his final call choke with emotion describing the outpouring of emotion, the show of respect by communities all along the path. It is described by one, below, and it gives an insight to the rest of us what it means to be a part of this Band of Brothers, this very special group of Adair Countians.

By Ralph Roy Waggener

Charles Sparks grew up in and around the Adair Co. Volunteer Department almost all his life. His Father Charles was a member most of his life; I don't know how long - but as long as I can remember.

This father son team worked together I believe for a short time as firemen until senior Charles decided to retire from fighting fires. This is almost a tradition in this Volunteer fire dept. several other have followed their fathers into service.

A tight group of volunteer fire fighters have kept this fire department one of the very best in the state of Kentucky.

The volunteers have saved a lot of homes and business here in Columbia and Adair Co. over the department's long life.

The Hotel Fire is one of the most remembered. So many other services like hauling water to folks all over the county and the unreal number of grass fires which have been fought by this great Band of Brothers - a very tight family of fire fighters.

Charles "Sparky" Sparks was a Fire fighter whose whole life was wrapped around fire fighting with his family being the one exception.

With 32 years in The Columbia Volunteer Fire Department and 23 years as a Deputy Fire Marshall he traveled all over the state with this fire related job. He has been the representative of his department at most funerals of fallen firefighters all over Kentucky.

He has taught fire safety and how to fight fires for a lot of other fire departments.

You could say Charles loved his work and he lived his work and he died doing his work. What better could you say about a man than he is that dedicated to his work.

There will be representatives of fire departments from all over the state here at his funeral.

The procession home from Louisville was very impressive .

My son-in-law William Grider, a firefighter who feels so honored to be one of the Band of Brothers, told me how unforgettable the reception given the cortege was.

An escort from the Louisville hospital where Charles died to the Bullitt County line was provided. The procession had the right lane and no one was allowed to pass it on Interstate 65.

In Hardin County, the Elizabethtown fire department had their equipment and most of the department out when cortege passed by.

On entering the Lincoln Parkway, a large American Flag was draped across an overpass.

William also told of all Hodgenville and Buffalo Departments standing at attention and all roads intersecting were blocked by the police and fire department.

The Campbellsville Fire Department did the same as they passed down KY 210, through the four-way, onto New Campbellsville Road for the last miles of the way. Along this path, so many close friends who have come to each other's mutual aid so many times - from that dread night when Adair Countians and Campbellsvillians joined forces to fight the Hotel Miller tragedy with the Taylor Countians hose by hose with us, then - to the recent fire at Fruit of the Loom and when the Campbellsvillians gave such impressive back up to Ladder One - no matter the credit or the glory - before their own super truck became a part of their fire fighting arsenal.

Coming into Columbia, with Kentucky State Police, Adair County Sheriffs, Columbia City Police, State Fire Marshals, Columbia/Adair County Fire Department, Adiar County Emergency Medical Vehicles, and Adair SAR units escorting the earthly remains into Columbia, past silent mourners and fellow firemen from Breeding and Knifley, the emotions were overwhelming.

They were there. The high and the mighty. The haves and the poor. All paying tribute to Charles Sparks, and learning to understand the bonds of this family of firefighters and first responders, this very special Band of Brothers.

It was a day none of us who were there will ever forget. Nor should we. For the firemen, the emotion must have been overwhelming.

The funeral itself is expected to be far more impressive still. As it should be. Columbia has never seen anything like the pageantry and ceremony which will, appropriately, be given on behalf of Charles Sparks.

Columbia has lost a good and dedicated public servant, son, and father.

Let's honor him together as a community.

Ralph Waggener, the writer, is editor and publisher of It's Just for a Smile News

This story was posted on 2011-07-09 15:54:47
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Fire Station decked in black mourning bunting

2011-07-10 - 201 Merchant ST, Columbia, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Columbia/Adair County Firemen worked all day Saturday, July 9, 2011, preparing the Columbia-Adair County Fire Department Building for the visitation and funeral times for fallen fireman Charles Sparks. The station has been spit polished to those high standards befitting the beloved member of the Band of Brothers. Today, Sunday, July 10, 2011, will begin the long visitation period starting at 2:30pmCT today, at the Columbia Christian Church, one block away at 206 Campbellsville Street, and continuing to 9pmCT Sunday and then on Monday, from 6amCT until the hour of the service at 1pmCT. Adair Countians are being especially respectful in the area bounded by the Public Square, Merchant to Wall Street, and from the Fairgound Street intersection on Campbellsville Street to Downtown. An extraordinarily large number of visitors to Columbia is expected today for the visitation and tomorrow for the funeral rites.

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Campbellsville/Merchant Street Corner in readiness

2011-07-10 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Early Dawn came with a beautiful sunrise in Columbia with the Northwest corner of Campbellsville Street and Merchant Streets in readiness for the visitation for Charles Sparks, at Columbia Christian Church, at 206 Campbellsville ST, starting at 2:30pmCT today. At far left is is the Columbia/Adair County Fire Department Building, in the center left, under the flag at half-staff, are fire trucks from the department, and at far right, the equipment trailer for the Kentucky Fire Commission.

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Gathering for visitation for Charles Victor Sparks (1961-2011)

2011-07-10 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Colleagues dress uniform from all over the Commonwealth were gathering for the visitation for Charles Victor Sparks Sunday afternoon, July 201, 2011. Sparks was a State Fire Marshal (Unit FM 77), Columbia/Adair Co. Fireman (Fire Unit 16), and and Adair County Ambulance Service EMS (Unit 916). The visitation continues at the Columbia Christian Church, center of photo, 206 Campbellsville ST, Columbia, KY, until 9pmCT, Sunday night, and will resume Monday morning at 6amCT until the funeral service at 1pmCT, Monday, July 11, 2011.

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