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IAFF and Families Honor Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

September 16, 2012 – IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger honored the lives of 154 fire fighters who died in the line of duty at the 26th Annual Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial service in Colorado Springs on September 15.

An estimated 5,000 people attended the annual service to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, including 700 IAFF affiliate Honor Guard and Pipe and Drum corps from locals throughout North America.

Click here to watch video of the service.

In his address to the families, President Schaitberger noted that he was in Colorado Springs just weeks ago to survey the devastation caused by the wildfires that destroyed nearly 350 homes in the mountain city. The damage and suffering caused by the wildfires serve as a metaphor for the families who lost a loved one in the line of duty, he said.

“Like these hills and these mountain neighborhoods, the landscape of your lives has also been altered. And that feeling of adoration that this community had for its fire fighters during that fateful time is the same feeling of love and faith that brings us here today," he said. "We have come together here for renewal of our spirit. We have come to reflect on the memories of those we have lost. As the landscape surrounding this city will restore itself, so too will the scars of your loss and of our loss.”

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach praised Local 5 members for their response to the Waldo Canyon fire, which “came into our city like a blow torch.”

“It could have been much worse” if not for the hard work of Local 5 members and fire fighters from surrounding areas who assisted in the response, the mayor said.

Prior to the formal ceremony, hundreds of family members of fallen fire fighters huddled at the Wall of Honor, wiping tears, snapping photos and tracing the names of their loved ones on paper provided by the Colorado Springs Fire Department Fire Explorers.

President Schaitberger and IAFF General Secretary-Treasurer Thomas Miller then laid a wreath at the Wall of Honor to begin the ceremony.

In his remarks, Colorado Springs Local 5 President Jeremy Kroto said he hoped that the hundreds of families in attendance would take comfort in the ceremony and in Memorial Park.

“While feelings of sorrow are to be expected when considering your loss, we hope that through this ceremony and this standing memorial to selfless public service you will find comfort in knowing that this IAFF and Local 5 will never forget what you and your loved ones sacrificed for their communities,” he said.

Kroto said the annual ceremony at Memorial Park represents the IAFF’s enduring commitment the memory of their fallen brothers and sisters as well as to families of the fallen.

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