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The firefighter badge of courage

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Ever wonder where The Maltese Cross originated? It dates back to the holy crusades.

This is emblem had its beginning during the Crusades and was the symbol of the knights of that period. The knights were designing a shield that wouldn’t be too cumbersome while riding horses into battle. The cross design was adopted and put into use by the early Knights of Malta. The Knights of Malta became a charitable, non-military organization during the 11th and 12th centuries, providing aid to the sick and poor and helping to set up numerous hospitals. They would later take up arms and join with the Knights of the Crusades in an effort to win back the Holy Land. 1

We know it today as the emblem of the international fire service. It’s the symbol that is easily recognized visually by all people. However the symbol carried a flamboyancy all its own when worn by its original designer the Knights of the Crusade. They dressed in regal fashion to show their colors in a uniform manner. Large crimson-colored capes were worn over the suits of armor. Not only were the capes symbolic, but they also helped provide a defense against one of the newest weapons of war–fire. As invading forces attacked a castle, the defenders would throw containers of flammable liquids. Once the armies were soaked, a torch would be hurled at the attackers, igniting them in flames.

As their fellow warriors helplessly fight the flames, the Malta would rush to them, remove their capes and extinguish the flames.

As a ceremonial honor, the cross worn by these brave men was decorated and held inscriptions from their admirers.
It came to be known as first badge of courage and the most honorable medal that could adorn a uniformed crusader.

Proudly we wear our Maltese Cross symbol and realize how much of a tradition of pride and sacrifice this badge holds.


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