31st Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend

The Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) and I are in Emmitsburg, Maryland for the 31st Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend. This is our 3rd time attending the Weekend together. See a post from out 1st trip by CLICKING HERE and our 2nd time  HERE 

Learn about the Memorial Weekend from their web site by CLICKING HERE

Once again, we left work and family behind but our sacrifice would soon pay off. Actually, I shouldn’t even have said it “THAT” way because those that we are here to HONOR have made a much bigger sacrifice.

This weekend, Firefighters from all across the Country will HONOR 80 of our Brothers and Sisters who lost their lives in the Line of Duty in 2011 (as well as 5 others from a previous year). Not only will we HONOR our fallen, we will also continue to build the SUPPORT NETWORK for the survivors. That’s really what this weekend is all about … THE SURVIVORS.

We left home at 06:30 this morning and headed to Arlington National Cemetery .

Every year, during the Memorial Weekend; The Sentinels place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on behalf of the NFFF and the survivors of our fallen.  It’s an emotional and humbling experience to witness.

If you’ve never attended / visited the NFFF Memorial or attended the Memorial Weekend, YOU’RE MISSING OUT!  Paid or volunteer, rookie or Chief, EVERY MEMBER of the Fire Service needs to experience what happens here. You need to walk these hallowed grounds. To experience the emotion.

My visits here have always been life altering experiences. I’ve often referred to them as being even “spiritual”.  This year, more so than others.

This was this first time I’ve attended the wreath laying. It was also my first visit to the Arlington National Cemetery.

I still can’t explain the feeling I had seeing all the graves. The tombstones (markers) in PERFECT formation.

It was a silent SCREAM.

A silent scream of PRIDE, HONOR, TRADITION and RESPECT. It painted a true picture of BROTHERHOOD between the living and the dead. I held back tears and pulled for a breath as I read the names and dates of men I never knew. Men who gave their lives for folks like us …. for guys like me.

Then I learned the story. The story of The Sentinels and why they stand guard over the Tomb (use the previous link to learn more).

Again, those words resonate .. Pride, Honor, Tradition and Respect.

The Soldiers were amazing to watch. I got to see them stand guard. I got to see The Changing of the Guard. I seen them change the wreath. All done with precision … with discipline .

Not only was I honored to have been witness, I was equally (actually more so) honored to have shared the experience with Rhett. We have see and been through so much with each other that each new experience continues to amaze us.

There were several members of our Honor Guard on hand as well. In the video, you may notice them lining the front rows of the viewing platform. I also failed to mention that the lady assisting in placing the wreath is a survivor.

More PICTURES from the Wreath Laying Ceremony by clicking HERE 

The weekend is just beginning and there’s a lot left to be done (in several aspects). That said, if you can attend, GET HERE ….. anyway you you can.

If not, we will have plenty of outlets for you to view and participate from home. Keep checking here, FireCritic and the NFFF web site as well as on our Face Book pages.

Find Ironfiremen.com on Face Book HERE. Click “Like” 

I’ll try to keep ya updated as much as possible. Until I get back, stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines