EMMITSBURG, Maryland – Thousands gathered in the small town of Emmitsburg, Maryland on the first weekend of October to honor the nation’s fallen firefighters and their survivors.
The U.S. fire service paid tribute to 95 firefighters during ceremonies over three days culminating in a memorial service held on Sunday. 75 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2016 and 20 firefighters from previous years were officially recognized in the 36th National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.
2016 plaque (NFFF photo)
Families of the fallen arrived in Maryland on Friday and participated in various activities presented by the event organizers, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF). Prior to the weekend, leaders of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus helped the NFFF start the service with a Congressional Flag Ceremony held in Washington, D.C. Members of the fire service also participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
9/11 Rescue and Recovery Effort plaque (NFFF photo)
On Saturday evening a Candlelight Service was held on the grounds of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. The threat of rain and thunderstorms led event organizers to move Sunday’s outdoor service inside at the Knox Athletic Recreation Convocation Complex on the grounds of Mount Saint Mary’s University.
Saturday Candlelight Service
Amid the pomp and circumstance of the pipes and drums, color guards, and honor guards, the names of the 95 fallen firefighters were read aloud. Firefighter tributes read by various speakers called attention to the unique characteristics and dedication of some of the fallen.
Representative Steny Hoyer (D – Maryland) and co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus highlighted the calling, service, and dedication of the nation’s firefighters and those memorialized during the service.
“There is inherent dignity and priceless value in what a firefighter does,” Hoyer told the audience.
Sunday Memorial Service
Chief Dennis Compton, Chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Board of Directors said “The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial is a testament to the ultimate sacrifice made by these brave men and women. All who visit the memorial throughout the year pause to honor these firefighters and reflect on the courage, sacrifice and strength of their survivors.”