Monday, September 12, 2016

Canadian Fallen Firefighters Memorial

We spent the weekend in Ottawa, our nation's capital, honouring our son William and 11 other firefighters who died in Canada during 2015.  The main service was held at the national memorial, a wall now containing over 1300 names of the fallen, including William, whose name is in the lower left below.

Names on the wall are organized by the province the firefighter was from.  New names are added around the outer edge of each cluster.  Firefighters honoured include both those who died while actually fighting a fire, and those who died of fire-related illness.

There a statue of a 'Big Guy' as they described it, pointing to the names of his fallen colleagues along the wall. On Sunday the space in front of the wall was occupied by chairs for the families and supporting firefighters.

 A table at the front provided a place where helmets were placed for each family during the ceremony.  The bell symbolizes the 'last call' for a fallen firefighter.

A big highlight was the support shown by firefighters from across the country, as well as the pipe bands who marched in to surround the seated family members.  We were of course participating, so the pictures don't even begin to capture the atmosphere.

If nothing else, the music made it very memorable for us - probably moreso than the speeches!

There were a lot of flags carried in too, emblematic of the many companies of firefighters who sent representatives.  Three of William's buddies from high school who we've known for years drove in to be there too.

Firefighters in parade dress surrounded the site by the time the formal ceremony got underway.  This is the flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.

At the end of the service, all the pipe bands marched out again.  I expect the marching bands will be one thing our grandson remembers; I know I will..

The 'Big Guy' was a popular place for photographs afterwards, here one of the pipe bands getting a group picture.

The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation, who spear-headed the building of this permanent memorial and organized this ceremony, deserve a great deal of credit.  Always held on the second Sunday of September, this year the memorial coincided with the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, where 343 firefighters lost their lives, a tragedy not forgotten during this ceremony.

I decided not to even try to write about the spirit and emotion of the moment for us here; it was of course deeply personal and overwhelming.  Our whole family was there, our daughter and her family flying back from B.C. after just moving out there one week ago!  If you hven't read William's story, you can find it under the tab for 'William' above.

18 comments:

  1. I am glad there is such a beautiful memorial and ceremony for fallen fire fighters. It is the least we can do in their memories. I cannot imagine what the experience must have been like for your family. Having all the family there must have been such a comfort.

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  2. Sending prayers and comfort to you and your family. How very special William must have been to have three old buddies come to the service.

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  3. The pictures and the tone of this post tell the story of the emotion and feeling of the event. I'm able to capture it perfectly, with my heart swelling with pride and loss for these brave firefighters. Blessings to all. I am overwhelmed.

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  4. I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot begin to imagine.

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  5. How wonderful there's a memorial to the brave firefighters. But sad that so many have lost their lives.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this. I am grateful to all the firefighters and rescuers.

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  7. That must have been quite something, but especially for you. I remember you writing about William at the time and have just visited the tabs on your blog, which made my eyes sting a little. On another note, I don't think the UK celebrates its emergency services in the way you do over there - and, despite my feelings about some of our more neanderthal police, we should take a leaf from Canada's book.

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  8. The only such memorial I'm aware of in the UK is near St Paul's Cathedral and was originally to commemorate those who died while fighting fires and rescuing people from bombed buildings during the Second World War, though I think that names of those who died during peacetime are now added. Yours is a fine and fitting monument, the service must have been very moving.

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  9. The only such memorial I'm aware of in the UK is near St Paul's Cathedral and was originally to commemorate those who died while fighting fires and rescuing people from bombed buildings during the Second World War, though I think that names of those who died during peacetime are now added. Yours is a fine and fitting monument, the service must have been very moving.

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  10. The tone of your writing says how emotional this memorial service was.
    A beautiful and moving tribute.
    How thankful we all are for these brave men and women.

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  11. i have read williams story, it touched my heart deeply!!! it is really wonderful to know that these brave men and woman are moralized in this way. the national memorial is so beautiful and i could feel from your writing that the service was very meaningful as well!! william deserves to be honored in this way and you should be very proud of the man that he was!!

    i'm not sure you could convey the spirit or emotion you felt...but your images tell a beautiful story!!

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  12. It was a very poignant service to attend, and good to meet you as well. I think the ceremony had the right touch.

    I'll be posting on it from Friday through Sunday.

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  13. Blessings to you and yours Mr. Hilts. I was thinking of you.

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  14. Memories with love, pride and sadness, and to be together with William's buddies and all your family makes this more special. A wall of tribute, pipe bands, and togetherness. We remember all the firefighters , 9/11, and those who give service down here in NZ.

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  15. This would have been such a difficult ceremony to see to the end dry-eyed. I'm sure your son would have been comforted to know you all attended to honour his life and what he gave, along with so many others. It's nice to know there is as much ceremony for the firefighters as to the police who also gave their lives in the line of duty. I honestly didn't know there was such a memorial to the firefighters across the country, but what a wonderful tribute. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Take care,
    Wendy

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  16. This post brings tears to my eyes. What a very special day of honour for you and your family and the families of those firefighters who have lost their lives protecting us. Thank you for sharing. I love a pipe band, which also brings tears to my eyes. Blessings to you and your family.

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