The Maltese Cross
As delivered by Marvin Owen
Travis G. Lindsey Memorial
January 31, 2014
The Maltese Cross is the traditional badge of the firefighter and is a badge of honor, as well as a symbol of protection. Its story dates back to 4th Century A. D. and tells of the courageous crusaders, the Knights of St. John, who lived on a little island called Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. They were compelled to drive out the infidels called Saracens that occupied Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
When the crusaders approached the City wall of the Holy Land, they were confronted with a new and deadly device of war that caused excruciating pain and agonizing death … that weapon was fire.
From the City wall, the Saracens launched glass bombs that contained Naphta, a highly flammable liquid. Once the Crusaders were saturated with the flammable liquid, the enemies hurled flaming torches into the ranks. Hundreds of the Knights were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their burning brothers from dying painful and fiery deaths.
These men became our first firefighters and the first of a long list of courageous firefighters. For their heroic efforts, they were awarded a badge of honor by fellow crusaders, similar to the Maltese Cross that firefighters wear today.
The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection, it means that the firefighter wearing the cross is willing to lay down his or her life for others just as the Crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago.
It is the firefighters' badge of honor, signifying they work with courage, just a step or a ladder rung away from death.