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Lighting the Night in Laconia, NH: Remembering Lt. Mark Miller

Lighting the Night in Laconia, NH: Remembering Lt. Mark Miller

Laconia Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters

Laconia Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters

When Gayle Miller’s husband Mark died unexpectedly in a dive training exercise on Lake Winnipesaukee, she was lifted up by the embrace of the close-knit Laconia, New Hampshire firefighting community. After some time had passed, Gayle decided she wanted to find a special way to keep her husband’s memory alive—and at the same time, show her support to other firefighting families who lost their loved ones in the line of duty.

Each year, the NFFF invites individuals, fire departments, communities, business, organizations and operators of well-known landmarks to “light up in red” in the week leading up to Memorial Weekend. It’s a way for communities across the country to honor the sacrifices of fallen firefighters and let their families know that “we remember.”

So she signed up to participate in the “Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters,” the annual nationwide tribute organized by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. She sprang into action – and wow, did her did her department and community step up!

Ideas to Share

[cycloneslider id=”laconia-nh-lights”]

Inspired by Gayle’s grassroots efforts, participants in beautiful Laconia and surrounding towns have chosen a variety of creative lighting options. Their stunning red displays range from simple to stunning, and can inspire other communities, too.

  • Bands of red light illuminating the sides of buildings
  • Crimson globe lights in theater marquees
  • LED lights on balconies
  • Red electric candles in windows and small red lights wrapped around posts.
Laconia Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters
Laconia Fire Department has been a “second family” with their support of Gayle. Several months after Mark’s death, the department formed an official dive team and joined with the community and business owners to raise funds for a water rescue boat in Mark’s memory.

Each year, with Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters, department members not only light up their firehouse in red—but they light the lakeside docks housing the fire boat they dedicated to Mark.

Spreading the Light

Homeowners across the region have shown support by temporarily swapping red bulbs in their outdoor lights. Each year, Gayle purchases a case of red bulbs and offers them to locals with limited financial resources.

Beyond town borders, nearby tourist attractions and resorts have recently joined the effort, and those numbers increase each year. In 2022, the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire jumped on board to spread the word to their colleagues statewide.

Small Population > Big Impact

With NFFF’s Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters, famous landmarks from coast to coast have displayed red lights as part of the nationwide program—ranging from One World Trade Center in New York City to the Willis Tower in Chicago to LAX in Los Angeles. But it is the small state of New Hampshire that has shown one of the highest participation rates in the country, and a big part of that is due to Gayle’s dedication. “Some of the displays are really breath-taking,” she says. “I cry when I drive through our downtown area and see all the beautiful red lights.”

Gayle and Mark Miller

Your life has to continue on, but you can find a way to honor that person and take them through your life,” she said. “We still miss Mark, but we are thankful for the time we had with him.

For Gayle, remembering her husband in a positive way has become part of her healing process. “It’s such a positive effort and brings the community together. The support shown by everyone really means a lot to me personally, because I feel it’s what I can do to honor Mark and also show my understanding for what other families are going through.”

And honor him she has, as she has pulled her entire community—and beyond—into her steadfast effort to Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters.

This year’s “Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters” program will be held Oct. 2 to Oct. 9, leading up to the 41st Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend on Oct. 8 and 9 in Emmitsburg.

Gayle started a Facebook Event Page titled “Laconia Light the Night for Fallen Fire Firefighters.”

Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters 2022