When a first responder dies in the line of duty, the loss is felt by so many people- their communities, their departments, and most importantly, their families. Many children of first responders hit life’s milestones without one of their parents there to witness it.
For two high school students, this meant graduating high school without their father’s present.
Opposite Ends of the Country, but United
Two high schoolers, one in South Carolina and the other in California, honored their fathers in their own way while making their way across the stage to receive their diplomas. Karlee Burdette lost her father in 2005.
He was a Sheriff’s Deputy for Anderson County. Alex Burdette was assisting in clearing a traffic accident at the time of his death. As Karlee walked across the stage wearing her dad’s cap and gown, 30 members of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office were there to cheer her on.
Tory Carlon was a firefighter for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He was shot and killed two days before his daughter Joslyn Carlon was to graduate high school.
Joslyn wore a turnout coat that was her father’s when she received her diploma. She was saluted by over 100 firefighters who came out to support her on this momentous occasion.
Carlon was only 44-years-old and had been with the department for 20 years. One of the captains who was wounded in the shooting still remains in the hospital.
South Carolina Proud
Karlee was the valedictorian at her high school. It was the same school her father graduated from.
“I had to get a little bit creative to find a way to get him to be here. I thought I would wear his cap and gown as a way to honor him and also to have him with me on that stage.”Karlee Burdette
Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride and 30 employees, a mix of deputies and employees who knew Karlee’s father Alex, saluted Karlee as she walked.
“I was actually very surprised at how many of them actually came. Some of the guys that were here were working with Alex that night. One of the guys was the first one on scene. So I know it means a lot to me to have him here and have them all here.”Nicole Burdette
When Carlon received her diploma, the group took a knee.