BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Elected officials and first responders from across the state gathered at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens on Friday for Fallen Heroes Day, honoring the 15 police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other rescue personnel who died in 2021 and 2022.

The ceremony also honors a police officer and firefighter who died in the line of duty before the event was created in 1984.

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This is the 37th year the state has held a ceremony to honor first responders killed in the line of duty. Their loved ones are invited to the event.

Over the past few months, Baltimore City lost police officer Keona Holley, who was shot in her patrol car while on duty in December, and three firefighters–Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and firefighter Kenny Lacayo–who died in a collapse and house fire in West Baltimore in January.

Lt. William Andre Sheffield, a 28-year veteran with the Baltimore City Fire Department who died of COVID-19 on Jan. 27, was also honored, as were Chief Nicholas C. Finamore of the Prince George’s County Fire Department, Director of Field Operations Beverly Good of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Corporal Keith A. Heacook of the Delmar Police Department, Battalion Chief Joshua D. Laird of the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services, Firefighter/EMT Kelly W. Frye of the City of Cumberland Fire Department, Battalion Chief Christopher D. Morlan of the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Service, Police Officer Gregory M. Santangelo of the Frederick Police Department, Paramedic/Firefighter Robert “Bobby” A. Jones of the Reese & Community Volunteer Fire Company, Firefighter/EMT Wayne V. Fisher of the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Foundation, and Firefighter Janet H. Holbrook, of the Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company.

Seven deaths were the result of COVID-19.

“Over the years, we know we’ve lost far too many of our heroes, but we promise to never forget any of them,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said.

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The ceremony not only recognized the fallen heroes, but also the loved ones they leave behind.

“Their legacies will forever live on with the countless lives they touched and through the continued commitment of those here today,” Lt. Gov. Rutherford said.

The family of each fallen hero was given a replica of the Fallen Heroes Memorial and a copy of a General Assembly resolution.

WJZ’s Denise Koch delivered remarks at the ceremony.

“True heroism is sober,” Koch said. “It is undramatic. It doesn’t boast. It doesn’t ask for medals or for praise. It is simply the urge to serve others no matter the cost.“

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After the deaths of three Baltimore County firefighters in 1984, Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens established the annual event to honor the sacrifices of every man and woman who died that year in public safety service.

Jessica Albert