Wreath Ceremony Honors Fallen FFs

Fallen firefighters who also served their country were remembered Thursday during a wreath-laying ceremony at ArlingtonNationalCemetery.

About 90 members of honor guards from fire departments across the country participated in the annual event, which is held just prior to the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Weekend.

"We do this to honor our brother and sister firefighters who in addition to serving their communities, also served their country," said Tim Pelton deputy commander of the Connecticut State Honor Guard.

"It was an outstanding day in Arlington, and we had an upbeat crowd," he added. In addition to laying a wreath, the group stands in formation and salute during the changing of the Old Guard at the tomb.

Pelton said he was honored to have participated in the event.

Those honor guard units will join more than 750 marching during the annual memorial service on Sunday.

On a cloudy, breezy day recently, firefighters in Class A uniform raised flags at the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial.

Nearby, others saluted as the flags made their way up the poles in unison. Moments later, the salutes dropped slowly.

Firefighters stood at attention for several minutes before they saluted again as the flags were lowered. USFA staff and some visitors stopped to watch the activity.

The honor guard -- from Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut -- spent many hours flying the flags over the memorial.

During the annual memorial service, those flags will be presented to the families of firefighters who perished in the line of duty in 2008.

Earl Lincoln, this year's honor guard commander, said he was moved the moment he attended a memorial service. "There is so much honor, reverence, tradition..."