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.
Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens
As he leads the Pledge of Allegiance at Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, retired Air Force Capt. Thomas Sheehan will have a special appreciation for the anticipated 1,000 reverent voices joining his.
In 1966, a Memorial Day ceremony in Pennsylvania was so poorly attended that Sheehan wrote a letter to the editor of his local paper decrying the lack of respect for fallen soldiers. Forty-seven years later, the mere thought of it brings him to tears.
“I didn’t cry then,” Sheehan said. “I was mad.”