History: A Place of Honor and Memory
Each September, as summer takes its leave and
turns Colorado aspens golden, we gather here to remember. We
come together as one union. One brotherhood. One family. We come
to honor extraordinary human beings. We come to this special
place, not only to remember, but to ensure a hectic, preoccupied
world never forgets.
Here in Colorado Springs, our memorial pays
perpetual tribute to our bravest. Whether our fallen brother or
sister hailed from N.Y. or L.A.; Keokuk, Iowa or Newmarket,
Ontario; Whether they sacrificed their lives in a city whose
inhabitants number in the millions, or a tiny town miles from
interstates and international airports; Each name etched here is
a tale of courage and selflessness; a powerful tribute to what
is best in humanity.
In 1918 the IAFF organized to improve working
conditions for fire fighters. More than 60 years later, members
of Colorado Springs Local 5 looked out over this vacant field
and visualized a memorial honoring those who fall in the line of
duty. That dream became reality in 1984, when city fathers
granted a lease in Memorial Park for the purpose of erecting a
permanent tribute to fire fighters. Their asking price: The
modest sum of one dollar per year.
centerpiece of Memorial Park arrived in 1987. Nationally
renowned sculptor Gary Coulter fashioned a bronze likeness of a
fire fighter descending a ladder while cradling an infant in one
arm. Towering 20 feet above the park’s surface, “Somewhere,
Everyday” epitomizes the courage and bravery displayed daily by
professional fire fighters across our continent.
In 1989, memorial volunteers erected the first
of two granite walls to bear the names of fallen IAFF members.
The names of brothers and sisters who fall in the line of duty
have been etched here since. Although thousands have died
throughout our union’s history, names etched on this wall date
back only through 1976, when the United States federal
government first began tracking line-of-duty deaths in the fire
1996 found Coulter adding another unforgettable
image to Memorial Park. His second creation, “Lamentations”,
depicts a fire fighter grieving the loss of his comrades.
Additional upgrades over the final years of the 20th century
steadily transformed this tribute to our fallen family members
into a memorial of international stature. Paving stone, monument
lighting, flag standards and walkways now beautify this hallowed
place, creating an atmosphere of dignity and reverence for all
who visit here
As the original wall has filled to near capacity
with names of fallen heroes, a second wall has become necessary.
In 2002, this second granite wall was erected just a few steps
from the original wall of honor. In a ceremony fraught with
irony, this new memorial wall was dedicated a scant four days
after terrorist attacks claimed 347 of our New York City
- Written by Aaron Espy