IAFF Memorial

The third Saturday in September brings the annual IAFF Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Colorado Springs (yea, CO Springs. Way back in the late 80’s, the local in CO Springs put a bid in for the international memorial and received it). I have attended every year except for one since moving out here, and Ahna and I have attended every year since meeting each other. This year we took Ezra for his first taste of the memorial…

The service recognizes all of the IAFF members that died in the line of duty during the previous year. This past year, Ontario, Canada passed a presumptive cancer legislation – which opened up the doors to dozens of firefighters over the past several decades. The IAFF decided to include all of these firefighters on the memorial; but they have decided to add a few each year. This year they added about 20 of those names to the memorial along with the other firefighters that died this past year…bringing the total number of people added to the wall at 137 – the largest single year addition ever (outside of the 490+ in 2002, which included the 343 FDNY firefighters killed on 9/11). 

About 5,000 people attended this year’s memorial from all over the world (including my Mom and Dad for the second consecutive time; and Cyrilla went down with us for the 5th or 6th time). The service was meaningful, as each family is presented with a flag after the name of their loved one was read. Fire department honor guards from all over the nation also assemble to participate in the ceremony, and CRFD’s had three representatives in this year. It’s an amazing site to see all of the flags and to hear the enormous pipe and drum corps. 

As humbling and emotional as the service is every year, the after-ceremony-bonding is equally relieving and satisfying. Each year we head to an Irish bar in downtown Colorado Springs – Jack Quinn’s – that essentially shuts down to the public and is the place to be if you are a firefighter. While the addition of Ezra means the subtraction of some time at Quinn’s, we still had an opportunity to share a beer and food with a lot of good friends. Ezra did great at the ceremony and at Quinn’s and slept all of the way home…

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