Firefighters are indentified by and are very proud of the badge that identifies them with their company. The majority of firemen’s badges are in the shape of the Maltese Cross. Why the fireman’s Maltese Cross? The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection . . . a badge of honor, and its story is hundreds of years old.
When a courageous band of Crusaders from Malta, known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the Holy Land, they encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but horrible, device of war; it brought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters for the Cross. The Saracens’ weapon was fire!
As the Crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they were struck by glass bombs, containing naptha. When the became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming tree into their midst.
Hundreds of the Knights were burned alive. Others risked their lives to save their brothers in arms from drying painful, fiery deaths.
Thus, these men became our first firemen, and the first of a long list of courageous fire fighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded each hero a badge of honor; a cross similar to the one firefighters wear today.
The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you, just as Crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago.
The Maltese Cross is a firefighter’s badge of honor, signifying that he works in courage. . . a ladder-rung away from death.