(Timonium, MD) — The 36th annual Fallen Heroes Day observance will be live-streamed at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, May 7, 2021, on the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dulaneyvalleymemorialgardens.
The annual event honors police, firefighters, and emergency medical/rescue personnel who have died in the line of duty and is the only statewide ceremony in the nation that brings together all segments of the public safety community. Fallen Heroes Day, which is held each year on the first Friday in May, is also an opportunity for the public to show their appreciation for those who risk their lives every day to protect the citizens of Maryland. Including this year’s observance, the ceremony has honored 190 Maryland first responders.
While the public will be able to see the ceremony online, family members of those being honored this year will be in attendance. In accordance with State of Maryland and Baltimore County health guidelines, social distancing and mask protocols will be followed. The ceremony will include a wreath placement, tributes to those lost, TAPS and a 21-gun salute. Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, Jr. will deliver a memorial address. Award-winning photojournalist, producer and director Pete O’Neal will be the keynote speaker.
Maryland’s 9/11 Rolling Memorial will be on site at the Fallen Heroes Day ceremony. The bell that is housed on the Memorial will toll as we honor the first responders lost within the last two years and all who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Note: While the ceremony can be seen in real-time on May 7 at 1 p.m. on Dulaney Valley’s Facebook page, those who wish to see the ceremony later that day or on another date can view the taped version by going to a link on the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens website www.dulaneyvalley.com.
“Although there has been tremendous progress in addressing COVID-19, the pandemic is still with us and it is essential to continue to follow our state’s public health guidelines and directives. With more than 1500 guests attending the ceremony each year, we knew that it was important to plan a safe alternative method for the public to honor our state’s fallen heroes. Our hope is that the 2022 ceremony will return to its original format and that we can once again fully gather in person to honor our dedicated first responders,” said Jack Mitchell, President of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.
Because the Fallen Heroes Day ceremony could not be held in 2020 as the pandemic surged throughout the state, a virtual tribute was held last year. This year’s observance will honor the first responders lost within the last two years, as well as all police, firefighters, and emergency medical/rescue personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Additionally, those on the front line who are working to keep our community safe as they respond to the coronavirus will receive special recognition. Governor Larry Hogan has issued a proclamation declaring May 7, 2021 as Fallen Heroes Day in Maryland and has ordered flags flown at half-staff at the State House and all state facilities.
The following fallen heroes will be remembered on May 7, 2021:
Police Officer III Kyle David Olinger of the Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland, who died on April 18, 2019. Officer Olinger succumbed to complications of a gunshot wound sustained on August 13, 2003, while making a traffic stop in Silver Spring, MD. As a result of that shooting, Officer Olinger remained paralyzed below the chest until his passing this past April. Kyle Olinger served with distinction, serving two years with the Montgomery County Police Department and six years with the Reading Police Department.
Firefighter Michael “Mike” Powers of the Libertytown Volunteer Fire Department in Frederick County, Maryland, who died on June 25, 2019. While responding to the scene of a fatal vehicle accident involving a tanker truck and car, Firefighter Powers suffered a medical emergency as he was clearing away wreckage from the Route 26 accident. The veteran volunteer firefighter’s distinguished fire service career spanned more than 50 years.
Assistant Engineer Otis Isaacs, Jr. of the North East Fire Company who died on December 29, 2019. The volunteer firefighter, who was past chief engineer, president, and chief of the fire company, suffered a cardiac arrest following a shift working on a fire department vehicle and working standby for two responses. Firefighter Isaacs joined the North East Fire Co. in 1964 and was one of several members of his family to be part of the department. He was inducted into the Harford-Cecil Hall of Fame in 2003.
Corporal Christine Peters of the Greenbelt Police Department in Prince George’s County, Maryland, who died on January 14, 2021. The corporal succumbed to injuries sustained 12 days earlier when she was struck by a vehicle while assisting officers from the United States Park Police at the scene of a crash. Corporal Peters was an exceptional officer who served with the Greenbelt Police Department for 22 years and had previously served with the University of Maryland Police Department for five years.
In addition, each year the ceremony honors one firefighter and one police officer who died in the line of duty before Fallen Heroes Day was established:
Firefighter Alexander C. Johnson of Rescue Hose Company No. 1, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, who died on July 13, 1958. While fighting a warehouse fire on Shaw Street in Annapolis, Firefighter Johnson collapsed and later died at the hospital as a result of heart failure. A WWII veteran, his dedication to the fire service spanned more than 10 years, working both as a volunteer with the City of Annapolis Hose Company and as a full-time firefighter at the Naval Academy.
Police Officer Milton I. Spell of the Baltimore City Police Department, who died on August 15, 1974. Officer Spell, who was on foot patrol, was shot and killed after stopping a suspected drunk driver. The driver had stolen the car and waited for Officer Spell to approach him, at which point he shot the officer striking him in the chest and abdomen. Milton Spell was a veteran, having served three tours in Vietnam with the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. He served proudly with the Baltimore City Police Department for seven years.
History: In 1976, Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens set aside burial spaces for fallen heroes and their spouses. The first observance of Fallen Heroes Day was May 16, 1986. It was later moved to the first Friday in May. In 2007, the 70-acre cemetery was purchased by John O. Mitchell, III of the family-owned Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home in Rodgers Forge/Towson, MD. The Mitchell family is proud to continue the tradition of the Fallen Heroes Day ceremony. Currently, 73 members of the public safety community are buried at the Fallen Heroes Memorial. A list of all 190 fallen heroes honored since the ceremony began 36 years ago can be found at www.dulaneyvalley.com.