ST. LOUIS — A memorial dedicated to St. Louis firefighters had been surrounded by trash until volunteers worked together to clean up the mess.

KMOX radio host Charlie Brennan stopped by the Firefighters Memorial, located on Chestnut Street in downtown St. Louis, Monday morning and noticed it had become a dumping ground for litter.

The memorial, which was dedicated in 1994, features a bronze sculpture of a firefighter atop a granite pedestal cradling a rescued girl in his arms.

“This is a sacred place to me,” said retired St. Louis Fire Captain Joe Bogue.

The sight of trash at the memorial was even harder to take in, given the recent death of firefighter Ben Polson. He died Thursday when the roof of a vacant home collapsed during a fire in the 5900 block of Cote Brilliante in north St. Louis.

“It’s hard. I know the guy that posed for the statue, a friend of mine, Ralph Jones. It just touches home for all firemen,” said Bogue.

He was among the close to three dozen volunteers who came to make things at the memorial right again. Current firefighters stopped to pitch in, too.

It was so unplanned. Brennan brought up the mess on his show after stopping at the memorial Monday morning. Then, he thought, ‘Why don’t we do something about it?’ He put out a call for volunteers to meet him at the memorial at 2:00 p.m. to clean the place up.

“It was disgusting to see our memorial to firefighters past and present, defaced with litter as if no one cares,” Brennan said. “The signal is that we don’t care about the firefighters. We don’t care about each other. I don’t think that reflects St. Louis.”

The results do. The volunteers didn’t wait for Brennan. They began showing up more than two hours early from Illinois to Wright City, Missouri.

“I noticed the push broom was here and a lady cleaning with a bag,” said Jack Dempsey, who stopped to volunteer. “So, I said, ‘well I’m here to volunteer as well.’ Perfect timing. They said people will be here around 2:00 p.m., but people just kept showing up.”

Instead of being a sign of how little we care it is again a symbol of just how much we do.