The Fallen Firefighter and Paramedic Memorial Park was dedicated Wednesday in honor of Chicago's 573 firefighters and paramedics killed in the line of duty, "who showed courage and compassion in the face of danger."
A Fire Department helicopter flew past just before flags were raised for the first time at the memorial park located just south of McCormick Place near 24th Street and Lake Michigan, along the jogging and bicycle path.
The Gold Badge Society, a support group for widows and families of firefighters, spearheaded the park project.
Gold Badge President Mary Rose McNamee said the park honored "everyday men and women who showed courage and compassion in the face of danger, put the needs of others before their own, and went on to become everlasting heroes."
The 3-acre park had one tree for each of the firefighter deaths in the city since 1857, and a special tree to commemorate those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "These were ordinary individuals who, when called upon, performed the extraordinary and paid for it with their lives," McNamee said.
The northern and southern entrances were marked by large, granite, Maltese crosses, which is a recognized symbol of the Fire Department.
Freshly planted flowers surrounded the park's landscaped memorial plaza where hand-laid stones had the names of those who died in the line of duty etched.
Benches lined the plaza, which also featured bronze sculptures of a pair of fire boots and a helmet, and a bronze bell that rang in honor of those killed.
"Never was the phrase 'gone but not forgotten' more appropriate than on a day like today and in a setting such as this," McNamee said.
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