COLORADO SPRINGS — For the first time since the pandemic's start, firefighters from across the United States and Canada will gather in Colorado Springs to memorialize those lost due to service to their communities.
This weekend will mark the 2022 IAFF Fire Fighter Memorial and it will be a big one as the International Association of Fire Fighters is inviting all the families impacted by cancellations in 2020 and 2021 to join in person for the event.
The names of 469 fallen firefighters will be added to the Memorial Wall of Honor at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs, including the names of those lost in the line of duty during 2020 and 2021.
Gregg and Jody Sunday traveled from Pennsylvania to honor their son, Stephen Sunday, who was killed in the line of duty in 2020. Stephen was a firefighter for the Scranton Fire Department and his name along with many others will be memorialized for the first time this year.
"It's very mixed emotions. I'm very proud that he's being honored for his service, but I'm very sad that he's not here with me," said Jody.
"We used to do everything together. That's the hardest part," said Stephen's father, Gregg. "It's comforting to know that there's something here, not just in his hometown, but something here to, you know, show there's remembrance," he said.
Lisa Mayhew and Wendy McGovern lost their brother Randy Donaldson Jr. in the line of duty in 2016. He was honored in the 2017 Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Ceremony, but the two sisters have come back ever since to volunteer and help families going through similar pain.
"We understand what they're going through. There was a pair of sisters here the last year in 2019 that had also lost their brother, and so we're a pair of sisters who lost our brothers, so we had an immediate connection," said McGovern.
On the Memorial Wall of Honor, you will find the names of all members whose deaths are considered in the line of duty, whether on the scene or those who succumbed to occupational illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and suicide. The names of 8,652 firefighters, dating back to 1918, are featured in a series of polished granite stones
The event begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 17.
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