DULANEY VALLEY, Md. -
With a huge American flag hoisted above the entrance to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency responders gathered to honor a handful of their comrades.
"There is no act more holy than that of saving another individual's life," said Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, "We are reminded here today of your brothers and sisters, our fellow citizens, who have made the ultimate sacrifice and it's with heavy hearts that we add the seven names to the ranks of our Fallen Heroes."
Of those seven who died in the line of duty, three worked for the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Jesse Bane met with the families of Deputy First Class Teresa Testerman, Corporal Charles Licato and Sergeant Ian Loughran.
Loughran died after suffering a heart attack after attending Licato's funeral.
"There's just no way to explain it," said Bane, "It's one thing if you lose a family member, because they died of cancer and I'm not looking to diminish that in any stretch of the imagination whether it's cancer or a heart attack or whatever, but whenever the death is due to something related to work, it seems to have even more significance and impact on family members and probably a lot of second guessing and wondering 'What if?'"
The children of the Fallen Heroes would join in laying a wreath at the memorial accompanied by a 21-gun salute.
And even though it proved to be painful for many to relive the loss, it was essential to pay tribute to the sacrifice.
"(It's) not anything we look forward to, but it's great that there's a tribute to people who have given their lives in the line of duty and it's also a great tribute to the families," said Bane, "This is really who it's for---the families."
Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens became the home of Maryland's fallen heroes memorial after the cemetery's founder set aside more than 300 burial spaces for those who die in the line of duty back in 1976.
This was the 28th annual observance.
The other heroes honored included Firefighter Christopher Staley of the Cobb Island Volunteer Fire Department, Montgomery County Police Officer William Talbert, Prince George's County Police Officer Adrian Morris and Officer Forrest Taylor of the Baltimore City Police Department.