LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The bridges and buildings of downtown Little Rock were lit up red this weekend, joining landmarks across the country in paying tribute to the men and women who have laid down their lives in the line of duty. One such man was Randall Pogue. “He was just bigger than life,” said Veronica Villalobos-Pogue, who remembers her husband as a man dedicated to his career and community. “He loved firefighting, he loved being there for his community, and he always had this crazy sense of humor.”
Pogue was just 49 when he passed away. The Oak Grove fire chief was on his way to a call when he was killed in a car accident. His name now joins the list of 123 men and women etched on the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial at the capitol. “It does mean a lot to know that people are there to remember their sacrifices and honor them,” said Villalobos-Pogue.
October 3rd and 4th is National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Weekend, a time when all those who have died while protecting others are remembered at the national memorial. “Usually, it’s celebrated with a week-long event, with families that travel to Emmitsburg, Maryland and get to visit the memorial,” said Jackie Warren with the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial. But COVID-19 forced them to cancel the in-person ceremony this year, another loss for families. “It’s just very moving to see so many people that don’t even know you come together to support you,” Villalobos-Pogue said, remembering the event in 2015.
That leaves cities like Little Rock determined to make sure the fallen are still honored. “Last night and today,” Warren said, “the Arkansas river bridges in downtown Little Rock will be lit red.” While it’s only a part of the tribute they’re used to, families say it’s illuminating the lives of their loved ones. Villalobos-Pogue explained, “They make up the heart of Arkansas, the real fire departments.”
The names of two men who died in 2019 – Michael Wayne Watkins of Mountain Home and Eric Morrison of Forth Smith – were added to the Arkansas memorial this year. Watkins was also added to the 2020 Roll of Honor of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.