Washington Chief Declines Medal
The Giles-Griffen medal for valor, which is donated annually by the Washington, D. C., Times for bravery to members of the police and fire departments, having been awarded to Chief George Watson of the fire department of the District of Columbia for services rendered by him at the Knickerbocker Theater disaster, that officer has written the fallowing letter to Hon. Cuno H. Rudolph, chairman of the committee of awards of medals to police and fire departments, in which he declines the honor on the ground that every officer and member of the department who was on duty during the period of that disaster is equally entitled to that medal. Chief Watson’s letter follows:
Hon. Cuno H. Rudolph. Chairman. Committee on Award of Medals to Police and Fire Departments.
My dear Mr. Rudolph: I am today advised that the committee appointed to award medals in the Police and Fire Departments, of which committee you are chairman, has recommended that the Giles-Griffin Medal for Valor, donated annually by the Washington Times, be awarded to me.
I appreciate more than I can express the great honor thus conferred upon me by the committee, but I feel it only proper to invite attention to the fact that, according to my understanding, the medal referred to was donated by the Washington Times for award to an officer or member of the Fire Department who had risked his life in the fire fighting service and who had demonstrated beyond question exceptional individual valor or bravery which would entitle him to the distinguished recognition in question.
As I understand it, the medal was awarded to me on the basis of a commendation by the Commissioners for the services rendered by myself and the officers and members of the Fire Department at the Knickerbocker Theatre disaster. I do not feel that I am entitled to, or that I should accept, the award mentioned. Especially is this true when it is borne in mind that every officer and member of the Department who was on duty during the period of the disaster, and who served at that disaster or at either of the two additional alarm fires which occurred on the same night, should share equally in such recognition.
No one could appreciate more than I the honor which is conferred upon me, and no one would take more pride in being the recipient of the award, did I conscientiously feel that 1 were entitled to it, but, as stated above, I feel that all the officers and members of the Department are entitled to the same credit as that which the committee has been kind enough to grant to me.
I ask, therefore, that the committee reconsider its action.
Chief Engineer, Washington. D C.