NFFF Annual Memorial Weekend 2011

On October 15th and 16th, I was privileged to attend the annual Memorial Weekend at the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation’s national memorial in Emmitsburg MD. Please pardon my amateur camera work, but I wanted to share a couple videos and some images from Saturday evening’s candlelight service and Sunday’s National Memorial Service. This year honored 89 firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty: 72 from 2010 and 17 from previous years.

In workshops earlier in the weekend, families created luminaria for their lost firefighters. Some of these are captured in the following video.

Sunday is the “Sea of Blue,” the honor guards who line all the sidewalks for the families who are escorted through their ranks on the arm of a firefighter to their seats for the memorial.
The Pipes & Drums, like the Honor Guard, are made up of fire service personnel from around the country. Bagpipes are almost synonymous with firefighters. Here they play as the folded flags that will be presented to the families are escorted through the crowd.
For me the two most moving aspects of the weekend were the children whose presence evoked the weight of loss, and the Sea of Blue whose presence conveyed the palpable support of this distinct community. The ceremonies ended with the release of white doves who circled the gathered crowd several times before disappearing behind the chapel.

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