St. Louis Firemen Complimented.
The annual ball in aid of the St. Louis Fire Department pension fund, held in the Merchants’ Exchange Hall in that city, on Wednesday evening of last week, was a pronounced success, both financially and socially.
A very pleasant feature of the evening was the presentation to the fire department of a beautiful silk banner by Marcus A. Wolff, a prominent citizen of St. Louis. The presentation speech was made by Judge John D. Finney, as follows:
“Whether on the scaffold high, Or in the battle’s van, The fittest place where man can die Is where he dies for man.”
Chief Lindsay, Gentlemen of the Fire Department, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Within the scope of the lines I have just quoted—and I say it with reverence—is embodied the theology of Almighty God. as illustrated by Himself over 1800 years ago upon the hill of Calvary. Governments may pension their warriors, statesmen may pension themselves, but it is reserved for the Great God of the universe to pension its heroes. Chief Linsday, it is no flattery to you to say that you are at the head of a band of heroes. Napoleon once said that he never slept securely except within the hollow square of the “Old Guard;” and so the citizen of St. Louis feels when the clangor of your bells and the rattling of your engines, on a cold wintry night, wake up the dead echoes of the stony streets. He feels, as he falls back contented upon his pillow, that the “Imperial Guard” of St. Louis firemen are protecting him, and that though many of them in their devotion to duty may die, none will surrender except at the call of his Creator.
But my duty here to-night, chief, is to present through you, to your men, that beautiful banner. It is the gift of one of our most unselfish and public-spirited citizens, Marcus A. Wolff. He has long been your friend, and the donation conu s from the innermost pulse of his heart. Upon its field of blue and guarded by its fringe of gold, he has inscribed that sublime device, all his own suggestion—“Our devotion to duty is our devotion to God.” No grander sentiment ever fell from human lips; no nobler idea ever animated a Christian heart; it surpasses in its teachings the battle-cry of the crusades, and condenses in a few words all the lessons of Christianity. Blazon it, therefore, upon all your banners, let it be the guiding advice of your lives, and then when your own bells toll the solemn requiem for your departed soul, you will find at the hands of a just God, a pension of happiness that will be as everlasting as Himself.
Chief Lindsay and gentlemen of the fire department: I present to you, in the name of the great-hearted donor, Marcus A. Wolff, that beautiful banner.
In reply to Judge Finney, Chief Engineer John Lindsay said, briefly:
It is certainly a great pleasure to me to accept this beautiful banner, the gift of that good and generous friend, Marcus A. Wolff, to the fire department. This is not the first time that the fire department has been the recipient of favors from his hands; in fact, he was the first contributor for a life honorary membership in the organization of the fire department pension fund, under whose auspices this grand ball is given to-night. On that occasion he donated $100 as a starter, and continues to do so from year to year. It is needless for me to say in behalf of the officers and members of the fire department that we highly appreciate this token and shall always preserve and cherish it. The motto on the banner is a very beautiful sentiment: “Our devotion to duty is our devotion to God.” Would that I could command language to properly respond; but ladies and gentlemen, you don’t look for oratory from firemen. I will say in conclusion that we return our heartfelt thanks to the donor and to you, ladies and gentlemen, for your presence here to-night.