CHICAGO (CBS) – Memorial Day is a time to honor those who serve our country. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was doing just that Monday morning, attending the Chicago Firefighter Memorial Day Mass at Holy Family Church in the University Village neighborhood.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, it was the first time a mayor has ever attended that mass.
Fire Commissioner Bob Hoff said that Emanuel has stepped up and gone out of his way to honor the department.
Dozens of members of the Chicago Fire Department family came together on this sunny Memorial Day to remember those who served, those who are serving and those who died serving.
On Monday, they remembered four firefighters who died in the past year.
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Christopher Wheatley died on Aug. 9, 2010 while fighting a fire in the West Loop. Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum were killed in the line of duty on Dec. 22, 2010, when a roof collapsed during a fire on the South Side. And Patrick Hannon died from natural causes in January of this year.
“The fire department, this is our day to honor our people, but we’ll never forget the military that gave us the freedom we have today,” Hoff said.
The American flag danced high above the ground, hoisted up by two fire ladders – a symbol to remember not only the men and women on the fire department, but also those who fought valiantly to protect our country.
Jim Lutke, 81, fought in the Korean War and also fought fires in Chicago from 1961 to 1993.
He said he will never forget “the firemen that I worked with that have been killed on the job and, of course, the veterans who were killed in Korea.”
For Hoff, this ceremony carries more meaning each year. He’s been attending the Chicago Firefighter Memorial Day Mass since he was 6 years old.
“Pride and honor. We honor our retirees that are here, the ones who are with us because they set the table for us, to make this job the way it is, the tradition of the Chicago Fire Department, with the pride and the honor that they’ve given to us and we try to carry it on,” Hoff said.