Fallen Heroes Tree ceremony honors police officers, first responders who lost their lives helping others

Posted at 10:57 PM, Dec 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 23:39:52-05

SUFFOLK, Va. -  The Newport News Fire Department played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes during a ceremony at the Fallen Heroes Tree in Suffolk Wednesday night. It was a heartfelt tribute along with prayer and the calling of the names of the fallen men and women who have served as police officers and firefighters.

Ornaments on the Fallen Heroes Tree

“We tried to stay with the theme of red and blue. Red for firefighters, blue for police officers. I’ve painted the fire hose, so it’s red and blue for them - same with the lights that are on the tree," says Bill Price, Naval Base Fire Captain.

Organizers of the Fallen Heroes Tree say 137 police officers have died this year in the line of duty. 103 firefighters and 27 K9 dogs have also lost their lives during service.

Related: MADD holds candlelight vigil for Virginians lost to drunk driving 

Ornaments with the fallen heroes' names on them also represented the men and women who lost their battle with cancer attributed to 9/11 this year.

All of the names placed on the tree are of first responders from across the country, including five names that represent brave local men and women in Hampton Roads.

“It’s a pretty sobering moment because you realize that this year they’re not going to be there for Christmas and for their families," says neighbor Justin Ellis.

Wednesday night's tree ceremony was the second one organizers have put on. Organizers say not only is it a time to reflect and pay their respects; it’s also a teachable moment for the younger generation.