In 1976, Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens founder John Armiger Sr. set aside 330 burial spaces for members of the Maryland public safety community who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Ten years later, his son John Armiger Jr. created Fallen Heroes day, an annual ceremony that formally honors them and their families. Over the years, 171 fallen heroes have been honored since that first ceremony in 1986. Of those, 100 have been law enforcement officers and 71 have been fire fighters. Ten are women.
Battalion Chief Thomas J. Kimbel, now retired from the Baltimore County fire department, lost his brother James in the1984 Shiller furniture store fire in Dundalk. That fire also claimed the lives of fire fighters Walter J. Bawroski and Henry Rayner Jr., and was the inspiration for Fallen Heroes Day.
Mr. Kimbel summed it up best when he said: “For the past 30 years we have gathered to pay our respects to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our State. Many years ago my family and I sat in the front row and heard my brother’s name called out along with Walter and Henry. It was the most surreal moment in our lives. We have moved back in the rows over the years, and listened to too many names called out. We feel the pain and the tremendous loss. It gets a little better through the years, but you must never forget what so many have given. We thank Dulaney Valley for helping everyone, that special day, to gather together and to never forget.”