Memorial honors fallen firefighters - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Memorial honors fallen firefighters

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CORALVILLE (KWWL) -

Each year, dozens of new names are added to the Iowa Firefighters Memorial in Coralville.  The names represent those who have died after service to local fire departments or in the line of duty.  Sunday, the community paid tribute to those lost lives.

Firefighters give a lot of themselves to serve their communities.  To pay tribute to that service, the Iowa Firefighters Memorial was established in Coralville nearly two decades ago.  Each year, hundreds gather at the site to honor fallen firefighters.

"It's just not uncommon for people to spend 20, 30, 40 years on a fire department.  And they are just that dedicated. They love their communities, and it's something they can give back to their communities and fellow man.  And so it's just important that we remember all those that have gone on before us," said Mike Reuman with the Iowa Firefighters Association.

The monument will always hold a special place in Heidi Klein's heart.  A sculpture there honors her father who died in the line of duty.  Sunday marked the first time she's been to the memorial to see it as an adult.

"It's still unreal.  It's still unbelievable.  It's been almost 21 years since my dad's death and it's still such a great memorial, a great memory," said Klein.

Other families come to the memorial to see the names of their loved ones who have either died after years of firefighting service or who were killed in the line of duty. 

Mike Bracken came to honor his dad, who died last fall after 32 years of service with the West Des Moines Fire Department.  Bracken now wears the uniform, too, as a battalion chief for the Kansas City, Mo. Fire Department.

"I just loved what dad did to serve the community and just to be there and help others," Bracken said.

It's because of that dedication firefighters have to civil service that the Iowa Firefighters Association hopes this annual tradition of honoring its own will carry on for decades to come.

In addition to honoring fallen firefighters, this year's memorial service also included the dedication of a special artifact.  The Iowa Firefighters Association has acquired a steel beam that was among the World Trade Center rubble left behind on 9/11.  Soon, the beam will permanently be displayed at the Firefighters Memorial in Coralville.

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