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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Butler Elementary students honor local heroes

Sep 30, 2019 10:31AM ● By Cassie Goff

Tatum Jackson and Gabriel Jackson recognized the men and women of the Unified Fire Authority and the Cottonwood Heights Police Department as their everyday heroes. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

When the theme for last year’s Reflections was announced as “Heroes Around Us,” Tatum Jackson and Gabriel Jackson knew immediately who they wanted to honor. Tatum, a fourth grade student at Butler Elementary, created a piece honoring a fallen wildland firefighter named Matthew Burchett. Gabriel, a first grade student at Butler Elementary, created a piece honoring the Cottonwood Heights Police Department (CHPD). Both Tatum and Gabriel created art projects with the media of wood burning.

Tatum approached the local firefighters at Butlerville Days to give them her art piece. Unified Fire Authority (UFA) Assistant Chief Mike Watson was delighted. “Mattie was a dear friend of mine,” Watson said. “We worked together directly for four years, from 2000 to 2003. We became very close friends.”

The title of Tatum’s piece is “A Fallen Hero,” with the caption “I chose a firefighter named Matthew Burchett. He died in the line of duty. He was fighting forest fires in California. I wanted to honor this local hero.”

Watson requested for Tatum and Gabriel to be recognized by the Cottonwood Heights City Council. During that recognition on Sept. 3, Watson shared some of Burchett’s life. “At the time of the accident, he was a battalion chief for Draper Fire. It was really special to see him learn and grow, and to see how many people he taught to learn and grow in the profession. He was at the top of his craft. And he was fun to be around.” 

Tatum said she created the piece because “I thought it would be fun to make one (an art piece) for Matthew, because I remembered he passed away. I thought I could make one because he was a hero.”

Burchett’s friends and family participate in an annual bike ride from Logan to Jackson in Matthew’s honor. This year, they hired an artist to create a rendering of where Burchett was when tragedy struck. The image, titled “The Mountain,” has been printed on the back of the jerseys they will be wearing during the bike ride. “It’s pretty amazing when you compare the two pieces to see how similar they are. Tatum’s design really is incredible,” Watson said. 

Watson shared that Burchett’s brother, Dominic Burchett, would be receiving Tatum’s art piece for the family. He assured the audience that Matthew’s widow, Heather, will get to see Tatum’s artwork as well. 

Gabriel wanted to do an art piece honoring the Cottonwood Heights Police Department for his reflection piece. “I couldn’t think of any other hero than the police department,” he said.

The title of Gabriel’s piece is “Our Police Department,” with the caption “The heroes around me are the Cottonwood Heights Police Department. I want to be a police officer when I grow up. I want to wear a badge just like this.” 

As his caption alludes, “the mountain emblem is identical to the one we wear on our badge,” said CHPD Police Chief Robby Russo. “That took a great deal of time, effort and consideration. I’m grateful to you.”

“I understand that you want to be a police officer. You’ll make a great police officer in 10 years when you can test,” Russo said to Gabriel as he presented him a hat from the CHPD to get him started. 

“The Jackson family exemplifies what makes Cottonwood Heights so special,” Russo said. 

Both of Gabriel and Tatum’s entries “won at the school level and got honorable mentions at the district level,” reported their mom, Jamie Jackson.