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Fallen Justice firefighter honored by national group
Tony and Jackie Gupton at service which honored their son

EMMITSBURG, Md -- President Barack Obama and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation recently honored those who died in the line of duty last year, including a Franklin County man.

Justice firefighter John Derek Gupton died Sept. 16, 2014 on his way to a fire call when the water tanker he was driving ran off the road and overturned.

Obama paid tribute to Gupton and the 83 other firefighters who died in 2014, and three firefighters who died in previous years.

"... Today," President Obama stated in his address, "we gather to honor 87 brave firefighters who gave their lives in service to us all.

"Our prayers are with their families, many of whom honor us with their presence today," he said.

"You remember them as moms and dads, siblings and spouses, friends and neighbors.

"Today, we remember them and salute them as the heroes that they were," Obama said.

Gupton, 24, the son of Tony and Jackie Gupton, was a member of Duke Memorial Baptist Church.

He graduated from Bunn High School in 2008, receiving several achievement awards.

In Boy Scouts, he received the Order of the Arrow. He also started a grass cutting company.

According to the Roll of Honor, prepared by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Gupton worked with Franklin Livestock and took great pride in learning about cattle, vaccines, and riding horses to work the cattle.

He enjoyed working on computers, was tech savvy, and enjoyed playing games with friends along with hunting and fishing.

Gupton joined the Justice Volunteer Fire Department in 2009. He followed his grandfather and father, who were past members.

"It's hard to think of a more selfless profession than firefighting," Obama said.

"There's a reason why firefighting occupies a special place in our imaginations; why little boys and increasingly little girls say, I want to be a fireman, I want to a firefighter.

"They understand instinctually that there's something special about it.

"Imagine what it takes to put on that heavy coat, and that helmet, and override the natural human instinct for self-preservation, and run into danger as others are running away; to literally walk through fire knowing that you might never make it out because you're trying to save people that are strangers.

"... These are extraordinary people that we honor here today," Obama continued. "They're extraordinary Americans.

"They set an example for us all. May God bless these fallen heroes. May he watch over their families and all who protect us. May their shining example inspire us all in our own lives -- as each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."


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