BALTIMORE (WJZ)– First responders who died on the job were remembered Friday in Baltimore County as public safety officers from all over the State gather for Fallen Heroes Day.
The focus was not about the way the men died but how they lived serving their communities.
Officers, firefighters and emergency medical responders took pause for the 32nd year, to give a moment to remember the men and women who spent their lives serving their communities.
Always an emotional day for mother Paulette Ohana, whose son Gene Kirchner was killed four years ago in a Reisterstown house fire.
“I’m not here just for my son. I’m here for all these firefighters who gave their lives for something they love to do. And they died heroes,” Ohana said.
Heroes like John Ulmschneider, a Prince George’s County firefighter, was shot dead last April while responding to a welfare check.
His name joined the long list of others on the garden’s permanent memorial.
The ceremony is the only one of its kind in the country, uniting public officers statewide to remember their own.
“We have to press pause in this profession. We’re all so very, very busy. And I think sometimes we’re so busy we forget to really take time and reflect,” said Kevin Davis, Baltimore City police commissioner.
Gregg Presbury Jr. received a proclamation for his father who was killed 40 years ago during a traffic stop.
“It’s very humbling to recognize that people still recognize us 40 years on,” Presbury Jr. said.
It’s an annual day of remembrance to those who lost their lives and a thank you to those who still serve.
A Montgomery County firefighter, Charles Gentilcore, who passed away less than a month ago during his shift will be honored at next year’s ceremony.
Governor Larry Hogan ordered all flags at half staff Friday in commemoration of Fallen Heroes Day.