CLEVELAND - It's an annual tradition before the St. Patrick's Day parade: people gather at the Cleveland firefighters memorial to honor fallen heroes. Tuesday was no different, as hundreds met at the memorial near FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland to honor those who lost their lives fighting fires in the line of duty.
"It's important that we come down here every year so that we don't forget and so we always remember. Everything that we have and everything that we are as a fire department, as firefighters is because of the hard work and sacrifice of those brave men and women that came before us,” said Frank Szabo of the Cleveland Fire Department.
Firefighters said that the fire department is just like a brotherhood. And so each year they come to the memorial to pay their respects to the fallen.
"I've worked with some members that have lost family members and just to know that the steps that they been through, I'll never be able to understand; but I do honor them. And we are one big family, so no matter how far back we go or how far in the future we are gonna go, we will always be one family," said Cleveland firefighter, Angel Marrero.
This year the Cleveland Firefighters Shamrock Club honored firefighter Paul Aukins, who is listed as the first firefighter in Cleveland to die in the line of duty. Aukins died in 1869, and his name can be found in the front of the memorial. The memorial also carries the names of the 76 other firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and save others.
"I feel honored to be here, "said Jack Maher, the retired firefighter who presented the memorial shamrock wreath this year.