Each autumn the California Fire Foundation honors fallen firefighters and their families with the California Firefighters Memorial Ceremony at Capitol Park. It also performs the solemn task of adding new names to the Memorial Wall. As someone who did not know any firefighters prior to coming to Cal OES in 2014, I hadn’t attended a memorial ceremony. So when I worked that year’s ceremony, streaming it online, I was impressed and moved.
As in years past, this year’s ceremony featured a uniformed firefighter procession, honor guard, personal tributes and the presentation of a U.S. flag to the families of those whose names added to the memorial. The sound of distant Pipes and Drums signaled the beginning of the event, and with every performer’s step in the Procession of Heroes toward the memorial wall the plaintive melody grew louder. Emotions ran from pride to poignant, from sadness to lamentation. The reading of the names of the brave men being added to the wall, each followed by the toll of a fire bell, drove reality home; they are gone but not forgotten. The families of the fallen received an American flag, hand-delivered by a single honor guard member; it was an especially moving moment during the ceremony.
This year, 29 men were honored, 16 honored in 2015, 15 in 2014, and 22 men and women in 2013. In case you missed it, do yourself a favor and take some time to watch the ceremony. It will move you and enrich your day.
Click here to see the list of fallen firefighters honored this year.
Click here for information about previous ceremonies.
Click here to learn more about the history and meaning of the ceremony.