The names of 123 IAFF members who died in the line of duty and reported to the IAFF in the last year are now etched in granite, to be remembered forever by family, friends and fellow fire fighters in communities across North America.
Thousands of IAFF members joined families of the fallen September 17 in Memorial Park at the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in the shadow of majestic Pikes Peak to pay solemn tribute to fallen members who names were added to the Wall of Honor.
The 2016 Memorial service began with the roar of hundreds of motorcycles and ended with the somber playing of Taps on bugle. During the ceremony, General President Harold Schaitberger – along with new IAFF Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly – laid the IAFF wreath in memory of the fallen.
Pipes and drums from locals throughout Canada and the United States marched and played in unison, and the names of each IAFF member was called, followed by the ringing of a bell and the presentation of folded flags to families of the fallen.
Rebuilt last year, the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial is an ever-lasting and stunning tribute to all IAFF members who have made the ultimate sacrifice. “This beautiful Memorial is where our entire union comes together as one,” saidSchaitberger during the Memorial service.
“Every single IAFF member who has earned a place on the Wall of Honor in this grand Memorial has a story that is unique. And yet, they are all also very similar because each and every one of the 7,484 who are represented on these polished granite walls died in the service of others.”
The Memorial service was held just one week after the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks in which 343 FDNY fire fighters gave their lives. Among the 123 names added to the Wall of Honor this year are of 10 IAFFmembers who succumbed to respiratory illnesses linked to the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero in the weeks and months after the attacks.
Also added to the Wall this year is A. Michael Mullane, the late 3rd District Vice President, the longest-serving District Vice President in the history of the IAFF, who died January 1. “His life and work touched literally thousands of his sisters and brothers across the United States and Canada. Michael was known as an institution in and of himself within our union,” said Schaitberger.
Schaitberger told the assembled crowd, “It’s up to all of us to make the legacy of the lives of all we honor today,” he said. “A legacy that we continue to improve the gear that protects those here in their dress blues when they go into their next fire.
“A legacy that we develop and push through the education programs and the protocols for cleaning the dangerous toxins off that gear once the fire is out.
“A legacy that we provide them with the information, guidance and access to medical care that they need to stay healthy throughout their career.
“A legacy that we are making the identification and treatment of mental health issues a priority, bringing those who need help out of the shadows and into the light before another fire fighter takes his or her own life because they see no other way out.
“That is how we create a true legacy – to memorialize our respect and recognition of their sacrifice with what we do, with our actions.”
Schaitberger thanked Colorado Springs Local 5 and its dedicated members for the incredible care they take of the families of our fallen throughout this very important week and throughout the year in watching over and caring for the Memorial. “On behalf of our entire union and Executive Board, we want to thank you for caring so much about this union and those with whom you serve,” he said.
“The guardianship of this Memorial is an honor bestowed upon the men and women of Local 5,” said Colorado Springs Local 5 President Justin Koch. “Rest assured that long after the last flag is presented, the last pipe and drum is heard, as autumn rolls into winter, the men and women of Local 5 will be here standing watch over these walls.”