At the stroke of 5 p.m. Colorado Springs firefighters paid a tribute to nine fallen firefighters.
There were no words, only silence, following a city wide announcement.
"All stations observe a moment of silence for firefighters who lost their lives in Charleston South Carolina," came a voice from a speaker at Fire Station Nine.
In every bowed head were thoughts of a tragedy. They are thoughts that may never fully fade.
"It's going to sink in, especially after 9/11. That's something that lasts for years and years. This won't be any different," said firefighter Kenny Bradley.
The day went on, but soberly, as the hearts of a family of fighters bonded by duty go out to families who won't see their loved ones return and to those they say goodbye to before every shift.
"If you have a family you appreciate them a whole lot more, and that’s who I feel for most now are the families," said firefighter Cory Marr.
Every shift holds the potential for danger, a fact set in stone by thousands of names engraved in the fallen firefighters memorial.
"Who would've thought when they went out today they wouldn't be going home,” asked
Visitors like Kay Weckmen who came to pay their respects in peace. The sirens of a firetruck screaming by behind her Tuesday afternoon served as a reminder: each call could present another risk.
In South Carolina families are coping with the worst possible results of that risk as an extended family in Colorado Springs remembers the fallen with respect and honor.
"We know they did their job and we're very proud,” said Lt. Matt Clark. “Those boys and girls didn't flinch.”
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