Annual ceremony provides opportunity to show appreciation for police/firefighters who risk lives daily


(Timonium, MD) -- On Friday, May 2, 2014, hundreds of law enforcement officers and firefighters, dignitaries and members of the community, family, and friends will gather at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens for the 29thAnnual Fallen Heroes Day, a day set-aside to honor and remember those who died in the line of duty. The 1:00 p.m. ceremony, which honors those whose deaths have been declared "line of duty" during the past year, is the only statewide ceremony in the nation that brings together all segments of the public safety community. Fallen Heroes Day salutes police and correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical and rescue personnel who risk their lives everyday to protect the citizens of Maryland.


Since the May 2013 Fallen Heroes Day ceremony, three volunteer firefighters and a veteran police officer have died in the line of duty. They are:


·     Firefighter/EMT Gene Kirchner, Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Department, May 2, 2013


·     Officer Jason Schneider, Baltimore County Police Department, August 28, 2013


·     Captain David Barr, Jr., Community Fire Company of Perryville, Cecil County, November 7, 2013


·     Lt. James D. Brooks, Sr., Prince George’s County Volunteer Marine Fire Rescue, Inc., January15, 2014


The 29th Annual Fallen Heroes Day ceremony will begin with a procession of more than 25 honor guard units from across the state, police motorcycle and mounted units, bagpipers and drummers. Elected leaders including,Governor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will give memorial addresses. WPOC Radio Host Laurie DeYoung will be the keynote speaker and Mary Beth Marsden (WBAL Radio) will serve as the emcee. Gladys Falkenhan, the widow of Baltimore County Firefighter Mark Gray Falkenhan, a Fallen Hero honored in 2011, will also speak.


During the ceremony, after each 2014 fallen hero is remembered, their family will be presented with a replica of the Fallen Heroes Memorial and a resolution from the Maryland General Assembly.


Additionally, one police officer and one firefighter who died in the line of duty before Fallen Heroes Day was established in 1986, will be remembered and their family will be presented with a Governor's Proclamation.


"For nearly 30 years, Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens has honored Maryland's fallen heroes -- public servants who have given their lives in the line of duty," says John O. Mitchell, III, Chairman of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens. "Beyond honoring those who have died during the past year, Fallen Heroes Day provides an opportunity for the citizens of Maryland to take time to show appreciation and respect for the men and women who risk their lives each day when they report to work."


Firefighter Gene Kirchner and Officer Jason Schneider are buried at the Fallen Heroes Memorial. In 1976, 330 burial spaces at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens were set-aside for fallen heroes and their spouses by John Armiger, Sr., founder of the cemetery. In 1986 John Armiger, Jr. established the tradition of honoring those who have given their lives for the community in the only statewide ceremony for fallen heroes.  In June 2007, Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens was purchased by John O. Mitchell, III of the family-owned Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home in Rodgers Forge/Towson, MD. The Mitchell family is proud to continue the tradition of Fallen Heroes Day. Sixty-seven members of the public safety community are buried at the Fallen Heroes Memorial.


Keeping with tradition, Governor Martin O’Malley has issued a proclamation declaring May 2, 2014 as Fallen Heroes Day in Maryland and has ordered flags flown at half-staff at the State House and all state facilities.


The Fallen Heroes Memorial is located within Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 East Padonia Road, Timonium, MD 21093. The observance is free and open to the public. For more information: 410-666-0490 or www.dulaneyvalley.com.




Maryland’s 2014 Fallen Heroes


Firefighter/EMT Gene Kirchner of the Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company died on May 2, 2013 eight days after he was critically injured while fighting a house fire and attempting to rescue a resident of the building. Although he was only 25 at the time of his death, Gene had been associated with the company for a decade having joined the company's ranks as a junior firefighter when he was 14. Two years later, he became a volunteer firefighter. His twin brother Will and sister Shelly Brezicki also volunteer with the Reisterstown fire company. In addition to his volunteer job, Firefighter Kirchner, a graduate of Owings Mills High School, worked as a dispatch controller for Butler Medical Transport. He is survived by his siblings and parents.


Officer Jason Schneider of the Baltimore County Police Department died on August 28, 2013 while serving a warrant in a nonfatal shooting in Catonsville. Officer Schneider, a member of the county's tactical unit for ten years, was pursuing a subject towards the rear of a house when another subject attacked him and opened fire, striking him several times. Despite being mortally wounded, Officer Schneider returned fire and killed his assailant. Officer Schneider, 36, was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Baltimore County Police Department for 13 years. He was posthumously awarded the department's Medal of Honor. He is survived by his wife and two children.


Fire Police Captain David Barr, Jr., of the Community Fire Company of Perryville died on November 7, 2013 from injuries he suffered two weeks prior when a vehicle struck him while he was directing traffic at an accident scene. Captain Barr was a retired firefighter with the federal fire service and formerly worked at the Perry Point Veterans Affairs Hospital. In addition to volunteering at the Community Fire Company, he had been a member of the Water Witch Fire Company in Port Deposit, since he was a teenager. His wife, two sons and seven grandchildren survive Captain Barr, who was 64 at the time of his death.

Lt. James D. Brooks, Sr. of the Prince George’s County Volunteer Marine Fire Rescue died January 15, 2014 of cardiac arrest suffered the week before while winterizing boats in preparation for predicted extreme temperatures. A 20-year volunteer member of the department, Doc Brooks was 62 at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife, five children, and 15 grandchildren.