Memorial Mass, parade honor fallen firefighters

May 30, 2011 4:56:36 PM PDT
Several events across the Chicago area were held this Memorial Day to honor those who served in the military.

On the near West Side, Chicago firefighters marched in uniform to Holy Family Church at 1080 W. Roosevelt Road for an annual memorial Mass.

With their steps, the marchers honored those lost in the defense of our country and their own who were killed while they were in service.

"It's a beautiful ceremony," said retired paramedic Kevin Sullivan. "You remember the people who died."

Rahm Emanuel was the first mayor in over 20 years to attend the annual ceremony which represents a tradition for many Chicago Fire Department families.

"Most of the firemen here are second and third generation," said Bryan Gay of Chicago Firemen's American Legion Post 667. "Today is a day for them to remember their parents as it is for me to honor mine."

"It's for the families to know they have the support that comes from us. We feel their loss - obviously not as great as they do - but we're here to tell them we never forget," said Commissioner Bob Hoff, Chicago Fire Department.

They remembered those lost while defending our country as well as the firefighters who died serving the city. Corey Ankum, Edward Stringer and Christopher Wheatley all perished last year.

Patrick Hannon died in January, along with Chicago Fire Commissioner Hoff's brother, a retired firefighter, who also died this year.

"It should be done. We should be here to honor," said Barbara Connors, wife of a retired firefighter. "There's firefighters that passed away this year and we're there for them."

For the 79th year, the Chicago Fire Department Mass honored a tradition of selflessness and dedication.

"It is important that on this memorial day we give them the full measure of respect that they deserve," said Chicago Fire Department Chaplain Tom Mulcrone.

A bell tolled for each loss, there was a 21 gun salute and taps.

"It's just something that's in your blood that you have to do," said retired firefighter Tom O'Donnell. "It's part of family, so you take care of family and family takes care of you."

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