CORALVILLE, Iowa - As of this month, there are a total of 2,436 names engraved on the walls of the Iowa Firefighters Memorial in Coralville. 90 more were added since June last year. On Saturday, hundreds of families gathered to honor the thousands of names engraved on the memorial’s walls.
A bell rings once for every name called. The names of Iowa men and women who served as firefighters, added to this wall since last year’s ceremony.
“My dad died 7 years ago, so we’re here,” said Katie Sauser of Monticello. She’s been here before.
She helps release balloons toward the end of the ceremony, each one representing a firefighter whose name was added to the wall.
“It’s kind of sad to hear how many people died that were firefighters,” said Sauser. “It’s nice that everyone’s coming together.”
Look closely, and you realize many of the names engraved here aren’t just relatives in service, but in blood.
Jon Harris of the Ruthven Fire Department continues the tradition like his father, who served 25 years.
“Dad was a firefighter, grandpa was a firefighter, my brother was a firefighter before I was, and then I joined when I turned 18,” said Harris, who was using a pencil and paper to gather a rubbing of his father’s name.
The same goes for Rick Herman, who was there to remember his dad, too.
“My dad died in October of last year,” Herman said, pointing out his father’s name. “He got on in ‘80, I got on in ‘84, my brother got on in ‘85, and my other brother Mark got on in 1988.”
One of hundreds of families joined here by the bonds of honor, pride, and sacrifice.
“We miss a lot of things, you know. Holidays and stuff, when the call comes in, they leave, we leave. That’s part of it,” Hermain told us.