On September 21st, I had the honor of attending the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado Springs. This was the International Association of Fire Fighter’s (IAFF) 27th annual ceremony remembering firefighters in the United States and Canada that have died in the past year. The day was filled with prayers, tributes and tears.
Bagpipers from around the country prepare to honor the fallen.
Father Thomas Mulcrone, the IAFF and CFD Chaplain, was the Master of Ceremony. His words were consoling and his message, inspirational. As all CFD families know, the presence of Father Mulcrone brings an overwhelming sense of comfort. He has spent over 25 years being there for the CFD families and on this day, he was there for families from across the country.
The sound of the bagpipers was emotional. The rolling thunder created by the drummers, was powerful. Their numbers were extraordinary. “Amazing Grace” brought many to tears.
The ceremony honored all the firefighters and paramedics that have died over the past year. Their names are forever engraved on the granite wall, for all to visit and remember their courage and ultimate sacrifice.
One of the most moving moments in the ceremony is the flag presentation. A flag is given to the family members of those that have died. It is very sobering to hear the names being read, one by one, 157 in all. They are men and women that did not return home from a fire or lost their battle against disease, caused by a career of harmful conditions. It is heartbreaking to watch the family members accept the flags. Wives, husbands, and even children receiving flags on behalf of their heroic and selfless loved one, that died serving us. I am overcome with sadness and find it difficult to hold back the tears. I can’t even imagine the pain and loss they are feeling.
Three Chicago Firefighters were honored in Colorado Springs. Their family members stand to accept their flags.
The day allows us to mourn and remember those that have so bravely chosen to protect and save those in harms way. It is a day of celebration and thankfulness. It is a day that I am reminded of how fortunate I am to be married to a firefighter and how blessed I am to have him come home after each shift day.
Be safe firefighters and paramedics! Come home to those that love you!