Photo credit: Susan Nicol Kyle/Firehouse.com
The distinct rumble of motorcyclists announced their arrival. But, it would be at least eight minutes before the first arrived on the campus of the National Fire Academy.
They arrived under police escort and were greeted with applause from hundreds attending the annual National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial Service weekend events.
The motorcyclists returned waves and thumbs up as they rode through campus.
The Red Helmet Ride -- honoring fallen firefighters -- garners more support every year, said Tommy Baker, the organizer.
After a few moments of stretching and taking a much deserved break, the throng gathered in front of the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial.
They shook hands and shared hugs with survivors and families of the fallen.
The group cheered when Baker commented: "It didn't rain today" Regardless of the foul weather in previous years, the motorcyclists mounted and rode.
"What started out as a desire to pay tribute has become a tradition, and an integral part of this weekend," Baker, a retired firefighter said. He told the families and fellow firefighters that he shares the importance of celebrating the lives lost.
"We need to let the newer members know the history of our departments, and what these men and women had contributed..."
Baker reminded those gathered under a brilliant sky that the firefighting family is not found anywhere else. "When you leave here, you will have made many friends for life."