Karlee Burdette hugs a member of the Anderson County Sheriff’s department last week at her high school graduation. Her father, Alex Burdette, was a deputy in the department when he was killed in 2005. Photo courtesy of Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
Two teenagers on opposite sides of the country paid tribute to their fathers — one a cop, one a firefighter, both killed on the job — as they graduated from high school last week.
In Anderson, South Carolina, Karlee Burdette crossed the graduation stage at Crescent High School wearing her father’s graduation cap and gown, applauded by about 30 members of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. Her father, Alex Burdette, was an Anderson County sheriff’s deputy when he died in 2005 helping to clear a traffic accident.
In California, Joslyn Carlon was saluted by lines of over 100 firefighters as she arrived to her Saugus High School graduation ceremony outside Los Angeles. She accepted her diploma wearing a turnout coat worn by her father, Tory Carlon, who was shot and killed in a workplace shooting while on duty in Agua Dulce just two days before the ceremony.
Tory Carlon was 44 and a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. A firefighter captain wounded in the shooting remains in the hospital.
The daughter of Tory Carlon, the firefighter killed in Tuesday’s shooting at Station 81 in Agua Dulce, walks through a procession of her father’s former-colleagues and into the venue where she will graduate as a member of the Saugus High Class of 2021. Dan Watson / The Signal. pic.twitter.com/XTAwGnucyE
— SignalSCV (@SCVSignal) June 4, 2021
In South Carolina, Karlee Burdette graduated as the valedictorian of her high school, the same school her father, Alex Burdette, had attended.
“I had to get a little bit creative to find a way to get him to be here,” Burdette told WSPA. “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.”
Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride brought 30 deputies and employees, some who had known Alex and even been present at his death, and saluted Burdette as she crossed the stage.
“I was actually very surprised at how many of them actually came,” said Burdette’s mother, Nicole Burdette. “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.”
In California, where the death of Tory Carlon was only two days old, over 100 firefighters attended Joslyn Carlon’s graduation. As she received her diploma, the group took a knee.
As seen from the media area at the Saugus High School graduation, the hundreds of firefighters who came to support Carlon cheer and clap in the bleachers as her name is read, while her classmates stand and join in the applause. @LACoFDPIO @LACOFD pic.twitter.com/bICeYX8WYX
— SignalSCV (@SCVSignal) June 4, 2021
At a Tuesday vigil, according to KABC-TV, a fellow firefighter said of Carlon, “When it comes to being a father, when it comes to being a fireman, when it comes to being a mentor, there was nobody that could parallel that.”
Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.
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