Franklin Firecracker Festival pays tribute to fallen Trooper Aaron Smith

FRANKLIN, Ind. – The city of Franklin paid tribute to one of its own on Monday evening.

A portion of the annual Franklin Firecracker Festival was dedicated to Trooper Aaron Smith who died in the line of duty on Wednesday. Hundreds of people gathered for the festivities and also helped pay tribute.

The Franklin Community Band plays each year during the festival.

“The city of Franklin goes all out,” said Linda Kilbert, who plays trombone in the band. “We traditionally play in the afternoon or evening and do a lot of patriotic music. It’s just always a good time. Good vibes. Fun experiences.”

But this year’s performance came along with a somber sense of gratitude as well. Smith was from Franklin and went to high school in Whiteland.

“We did experience a loss in this community,” Kilbert said. “A big loss. He was such a patriot, and being a patriotic event, it made sense that we honor him at our concert tonight.”

The band played several tunes during their hourlong set, but the last song was reserved as a tribute to Smith.

“I think it’s just one of the most stirring patriotic songs,” Kilbert said. “It’s very moving anyways without the special dedication but I think it’s really going to touch hearts and souls just to hear that song.”

As the band got ready for their final melody of the night, Indiana state police took to the stage feeling the support of the crowd.

“I didn’t really know what to expect in downtown Franklin today, but I am damn proud to be an American,” ISP Superintendent Doug Carter said to the crowd.

As the crowd stood hand over heart, each person helped remember Trooper Smith in a special moment of silence.

“It is a very tremendous loss in our community,” said Danielle Thompson. “And I do think it is something that brings us together. I think it is 100% appropriate to not only celebrate him but anyone who has sacrificed their life.”

People who gathered said the loss has an impact on the community regardless if they met Smith.

“It’s sad because we’ve worked in the legal community forever, they go out every day and put their lives on the line for us,” said Sharon Thompson. “He was a hero.”

The Franklin Band ended its set with “Proud to be an American.” Linda Kilbert said ending their performance with that particular song seemed the perfect way to “thank our lucky stars.”

“[He] just seemed to be a real active member of the community and just loved his country and community,” she said. “And he served it well and we want to honor him and the sacrifices that he made for us.”

Trooper Smith’s visitation will be on Thursday and his funeral will be on Friday.

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