Fallen Heroes Day to honor police, firefighters
TIMONIUM — On Friday, May 6, 2016, 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 31st annual Fallen Heroes Day, a day setaside to honor and remember those who died in the line of duty. More than 2000 attendees are expected including survivor families, friends, and leaders of the public safety community. The ceremony is open to the public.
Keeping with tradition, Gov. Larry Hogan has issued a proclamation declaring May 6, 2016, as Fallen Heroes Day in Maryland and has ordered flags flown at half-staff at the State House and all state facilities.
The 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, will begin at 1 p.m. with a procession of more than 25 honor guard units from across the state, police motorcycle and mounted units, bagpipers and drummers. Governor Larry Hogan, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett will give memorial addresses.
Since the 2015 Fallen Heroes Day ceremony, four police officers have died in the line of duty. They are:
• Police Officer III Noah Leotta, Montgomery County Police Department, December 10, 2015
• Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, February 10, 2016
• Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, February 10, 2016
• Detective Jacai Colson, Prince George’s County Police Department, March 13, 2016
Prince George’s County firefighter-paramedic John Ulmschneider, who died in the line of duty on April 15, 2016, will be recognized at this year’s Fallen Heroes Day ceremony, but will be honored at the 2017 ceremony.
During the ceremony, after each 2016 fallen hero is remembered, his 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.
Following memorial addresses, there will be a presentation to the families of the fallen, and a wreath laying at the Fallen Heroes Memorial.
In 2001, Deputy Sheriff Jason C. Schwenz, who was serving with the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s office and died on Feb. 13, 2001, and Police Office Michael Nickerson of the Centreville Police Department, who was also shot and killed while responding to the same noise complaint, were honored at the Fallen Heroes Ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.
Nickerson’s mother, Sue, a survivor herself, is President of the Maryland Chapter of COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors). The Maryland Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors is a statewide non-profit organization providing programs and services for the survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in the state of Maryland according to Federal and State government criteria.
Nickerson said their mission is to help rebuild shattered lives of survivors and co-workers affected by line of duty deaths through financial and emotional support.
“It takes a special kind of person in this day and age to go into a career in law enforcement or emergency services,” Nickerson said. “We are very thankful that in the state of Maryland we have men and women who continue to serve.”
“For more than 30 years, Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens has honored Maryland’s fallen heroes — public servants who have given their lives in the line of duty,” said John O. Mitchell III, Chairman of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens. “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.”
Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens was established in 1958 by John Armiger Sr. In 1976 he set aside 330 burial spaces for fallen heroes and their spouses. Ten years later, John Armiger Jr. established the tradition of Fallen Heroes Day. The 70-acre cemetery was purchased by John O. Mitchell III of the family-owned Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home in Rodgers Forge/Towson, MD in 2007. The Mitchell family is proud to continue the tradition of Fallen Heroes Day. Currently, 69 members of the public safety community, including Harford County Deputy Mark Logsdon, are buried at the Fallen Heroes Memorial.
The Fallen Heroes Memorial is located within Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 East Padonia Road, Timonium. The observance is free and open to the public.