EMMITSBURG, Md. -- In a few days, thousands will gather on the campus of the National Fire Academy here to honor 80 firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice last year.
Five other firefighters who died during other years also will be remembered during the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on Sunday.
On Thursday, returning survivors of fallen heroes, NFFF staff and others were busy getting ready.
Linda Hurley, NFFF director of family services, spent a great deal of her day answering e-mails and questions from some of the people heading to Maryland for services.
As of late Wednesday, the families of 65 honorees had registered to attend. But, that number will increase over the next few days.
“We’re used to people deciding at the last moment that they will attend the ceremony afterall. We’re prepared,” she said. “We understand it’s a big decision…”
Hurley, one of the original people to help with the memorial service when it started in 1981, realizes how important her role is.
“I make sure people know that their loved ones will always be remembered and honored here…”
More than 200 returning survivors have returned at their own expense to help the new families this weekend. Hurley said words can’t describe the impact they have.
Understanding that thousands of people around the country will not be able to attend the ceremonies in person, the NFFF is taking advantage of social media more than ever this year.
In addition to live coverage of The Candlelight Vigil on Saturday night and the service on Sunday, a team will be tweeting, adding pictures to the NFFF Facebook page and posting information on its website.