Maryland police officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty were honored yesterday by comrades and elected officials at the 17th annual Fallen Heroes Day Ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.
Several hundred people attended the ceremony in Timonium, which included color guards, memorial songs and a police helicopter fly-over.
The ceremony also recognized the country's renewed appreciation for police officers and firefighters in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
A widow speaks
"The events of 9-11 only serve to bring to light to all of the public just how honorable all of our public servants are," said keynote speaker Vivian E. Cross, the widow of a Capitol Police Department officer killed in 1984.
Several elected officials - including one declared and two potential gubernatorial candidates - spoke about Sept. 11 and the sacrifices made by Maryland's fallen firefighters and police. It was a day of reflection - not politics - for Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, both Democrats.
Time to mourn
"Every returning spring we return here to mourn the passing of great men and women and every returning spring there are more heroes to mourn," O'Malley said.
Far fewer police and fire officials died in the line of duty in the past year than in the year before - one firefighter and one police officer, compared with 11 officers and firefighters.
Sgt. Mark Parry, a Baltimore County officer, died in January from injuries he suffered in December when a drunken driver struck his unmarked police car. Parry, a 16-year-veteran of the department, was 42 and left behind a wife and three young children.
Clarence "Cuz" Kreitzer, a member of the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department, died in September after responding to a tornado that blew through College Park.
Kreitzer, 78, suffered a heart attack as he drove home from the station. He had been the oldest volunteer firefighter in the state.