YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Five years ago, two York firefighters died in the line of duty. Now, the community is dedicating a special place to honor them.
Led by local nonprofit York XL, the York community created a memorial garden to honor firefighters Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony. The project, three years in the making, was unveiled on the five-year anniversary of the two men’s death.
“I was honored and overwhelmed with gratitude,” Ivan’s mom Judy Luckow said of the first time she was approached about the garden.
“He was just our little boy and now he’s a hero,” Karen Anthony, Zachary’s mom, said. “They’re not going to forget Zach and Ivan.”
Flanscha and Anthony were killed in 2018. They were putting out hotspots at the former Weaver Organ and Piano building when the floor they were on collapsed.
Exactly five years later, the York community dedicated a memorial garden to both men.
“He’d be humbled. He was just doing his job,” Karen said.
Judy said her son would react a little differently.
“I think he’d get a big kick out of this, I think he would love all this attention,” Judy said.
Families, friends, and fellow firefighters shared stories from their time with Flanscha and Anthony. Some were sweet.
“I have a sweatshirt that he got me which says, ‘Most people wait a lifetime to meet their heroes, I raised mine.’ And I did,” Karen said.
Others were funny.
“He always said, “Well you know I’m your favorite son,'” Judy said.
Judy described her son Ivan as a sweet guy who loved to read and was a musician. She said giving back to his community, however, was also important to him.
His father, a police officer, died in the line of duty when Ivan was 5. When Judy remarried, she married another police officer.
“He wanted to make a difference,” Judy said of her son. “So when he became a firefighter he found himself.”
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Zachary was an adventurous guy with a lot of interests, his mother said, recalling his experiences bull riding and briefly owning an alligator. However, being a firefighter was a lifelong dream.
“We found a poster when he was in… I think 2nd grade, 1st grade, and he had down firefighting,” Karen said.
Both women said they are honored and humbled by this monument to their sons.
“I mean it’s our private grief, but it becomes a community awareness and it just touches our hearts,” Judy said.
Karen added, “We all love our kids, we have two other kids and they’re the world to us, and now we’re sharing Zachary with the world.”
They both said they are also overwhelmed by the support they have received.
“I didn’t realize the brotherhood until after he died and how the firefighters treat us and how we’re a part of their family now,” Karen said.
The garden is still a work in progress. Organizers said there will be more planters, a patio and a sign to remind people of these two men’s sacrifice.