COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP)- Thousands of family members,
friends and colleagues gathered in the shadow of Pikes Peak on
Saturday to remember the firefighters killed in the line of duty in
the past year, including 343 in the attack on the World Trade
Center, whose names were added to the Fallen Fire Fighters
Memorial.
With a giant American flag draped over a pedestrian bridge above
Pikes Peak Ave., the International Association of Fire Fighters
ceremonies began with a procession of hundreds of firefighting
vehicles and a fly-over from an Air Force C-130 that helped fight
Western wildfires this summer.
"We must remember that they could be a serious bunch, but never
took themselves too seriously. How easily they would laugh with one
another in what we call firehouse humor, yet never forgetting how
to weep when compassion was required," said Harold A.
Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire
Fighters.
Air Force Academy cadets ushered nearly 10,000 people to their
seats. Hundreds of firefighters wore their finest uniforms, joined
by a sprinkling of wildland firefighters in their distinctive
yellow shirts and green pants.
The names of all the dead were read aloud while being shown on
large screens.
The ceremony was to honor 499 professional firefighters and
paramedics killed in the line of duty, including 425 reported
deaths from June 2001 to June 2002, and 74 deaths between June 2000
and June 2001.
It ended with four F-16s thundering past.
Last year's ceremony was held only four days after Sept. 11, and
many families were unable to attend due to travel restrictions
after the terrorist attacks.
This year, family members began arriving several days before the
ceremony, placing flowers at the base of the memorial wall and the
new adjacent wall with the names of the World Trade Center victims.
Some used tracing paper to make paper copies of the names of their
loved ones off the wall.
Sean Corrigan was among those who came early. His father, James
Corrigan, was a retired fire captain who had become safety director
for the World Trade Center. He had emptied out the daycare center
and was trying to set up a communications center when the building
collapsed.
"It is overwhelming. It helps being around people who are going
through the same thing you are. It helps you to move on," said
Corrigan said.
Among the firefighters who died in the World Trade Center
collapse was George Cain, a 35-year-old who had given up living in
Telluride to be a firefighter in New York, where his father was a
firefighter for 33 years. His brother, Daniel Cain, Jr., was at the
memorial to honor him Saturday.
"I think this is a nice tribute, a nice national tribute,"
Daniel Cain said, "and looking at Pikes Peak, my brother climbed
Pikes Peak and his name is on a monument next to it."
The memorial was started by IAFF Local 5 and adopted by the
national association as their national memorial in 1976. It honors
about 1,580 U.S. and Canadian firefighters and paramedics.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press