122 Fallen Fire Fighters Remembered

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They will not be forgotten. It's the vow hundreds made Saturday in honor of their loved ones, fire fighters killed in the line of duty. They came from all across the U.S. and Canada to take part in the 20th annual International Association of Fire Fighters Memorial Ceremony at Memorial Park. Each name is now etched on granite and was read out loud then saluted with a bell chime-- the sound heard by those who lived, fought and died before them. The memorial was formed in 1976 and to date, the names of 1,897 fallen fire fighters are etched upon it. One such fireman is Donald Hekkers. A member of the Colorado Springs Fire Department, his named was engraved only a year ago. Hekkers' widow Terry Hekkers revisited the wall Saturday, and says this year's ceremony was even more emotional than the last.
"Last year I was so caught up in all of the excitement of it all," said Hekkers. "This year, to sit back and watch, it's very hard."
But it's something Hekkers and others say they felt compelled to do.
"I need to be here... for the support of other wives who are facing the same thing I was."
Like Louise Montoya. Her husband Richard, a Denver Fire Fighter died May 21.
"Seeing it is kind of unbelievable," said Montoya. "I just can't believe this is all happening."
It's a sentiment shared by those all around Montoya, most of them strangers, yet related by a band of brothers.
"The fire fighters are our brothers and sisters from across North America," said Local 5 Memorial Coordinator Jerry Montella. "To see them come here year after year just to support these families, it gives me goose bumps."
And through the late summer sun, waved their flags, as proud and colorful as those they represent on earth, and in heaven, watching over those they swore to protect-- an oath they kept till the very end.