On September 21st, the names of Kenneth Edwards, Michael Reddy, and Cecil Morris were added to the Wall at the IAFF Fallen Firefighter Memorial. Relief Association Trustees, along with the UFLAC Board and the Family Support Group traveled with Larry Edwards (son, Kenneth Edwards), Kim Reddy (widow, Michael Reddy), Anita Morris (widow, Cecil Morris) and their family and friends to Colorado Springs, CO.
This event is more than just the one-day Memorial. It starts off with a dinner Thursday evening at the Eleganté. The Meatball Dinner is hosted by Rose, whose son was a FDNY firefighter killed on 9/11. In 2002, Rose began this tradition where she personally made, by hand, a meatball for every person attending. She wanted to have a dinner, where everyone that had traveled to Colorado Springs could sit down together and a have a meal, family style. This is one of our favorite things to do as a group. After dinner, the families, Trustees, and UFLAC representatives visit the Memorial wall. All lit up, the Wall at night is something everyone should see. Our families were able to see the wall for the first time and have some private time in its presence.
On Friday evening, there has been a long tradition where the families, Honor Guard, UFLAC representatives, and LAFRA Trustees have dinner together. During this dinner, the families can share stories while the Honor Guard gets some time with the families. Another surprise for the families is right outside the restaurant, Sonterra Grill, where they close off the streets as the Pipes and Drums take over. A special treat is when the Bag Pipers and Drums come into the restaurant for a special performance.
On Saturday morning, there is a motorcade procession, where our own LAFD Fire Hogs participate, riding down the streets of the Memorial Park. Thousands of people line the streets and then jam the park, while more than 1,200 honor guard members from across the U.S.A and Canada march into the Memorial.
In a very emotional ceremony, 250 firefighter’s names were honored this year. Of those, 25 NYFD died of illnesses associated with the aftermath of the 9/11 attack when the firefighters were called to help on the ‘Pile.’ Our own 3 firefighters, Kenneth, Michael, and Cecil passed from illnesses associated to the job. At the conclusion of the ceremony, family, friends and colleagues had an opportunity to approach the Wall to pay their respects on this very hallowed ground.
We were honored that Jan Graff (widow of Jay Graff) and Lori Harris (widow of Brett Harris) along with 3 of their children, Bailey, Corben, and Jacob were able to attend this year’s Memorial. For Brett Harris’ children it had been 14 years since they had attended the Memorial for their dad. A special thanks to all the members and families that traveled out to pay their respects. We especially want to thank the Fire Hog members that rode the entire distance to be there for the families.
Every LAFD Firefighter should attend this Memorial at least once in their life. It is truly a special ceremony.
By Diane Vigil, LAFRA Family Support Group