Seven Md. law enforcement officials, firefighters, honored at Fallen Heroes Day

Three of the seven men and women honored at the 28th annual Fallen Heroes Day were from Harford County.

The police officers and firefighters honored at the ceremony, organized by Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, came from different backgrounds and corners of the state, but all died while "doing the job that God called them to do," Gov. Martin O'Malley said.

"There is no act more holy than that of saving another individual's life," O'Malley told the crowd of about 1,000 relatives, friends, community members and law enforcement officials at the ceremony that included a wreath-laying, a 21-gun salute and a flyover by a helicopter.

Those from Harford honored included Deputy 1st Class Teresa Testerman, of the Harford County Sheriff's Office, who died in 2010; and Harford County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Charles Licato and Sgt. Ian Loughran, who died within a week of each other in 2012.

For attendees like the relatives of Deputy 1st Class Teresa Testerman, the ceremony was a sign of how much the law enforcement community takes care of its own.

"It's a great honor to have something like this for her," her father, James Hicks, said before the ceremony.

Also recognized were Christopher Staley of the Cobb Island Volunteer Fire Department, who died in 2011; Montgomery County Police Ofc. William "Bill" Talbert, who died in 2012; Prince George's County Police Pvt. 1st Class Ofr. Adrian Morris, who died in 2012; and Baltimore Police Officer Forrest "Dino" Taylor, who died in 2012.

A day before the event, Reisterstown volunteer firefighter Gene Kirchner, 25, died of injuries after unsuccessfully trying to save a man trapped inside a burning home on April 24.

O'Malley noted Kirchner joined the company at age 14 and led a moment of silence for him, while Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said: "We continue to pray for his family as we struggle to understand how and why such tragedy came to be."

Kamenetz also said those in the audience should honor their loved ones' heroism by emulating them.

"They are willing to step up to that line, knowing there are no guarantees. At some point in our lives, probably when we least expect it, circumstances may ask us to step up to the line," he said.

"Certainly we can resolve to live more selflessly, even in small ways, to care about the travails of people we have never met, to strengthen the best in us so we are prepared always to do the right thing," Kamenetz said.

Casey Brooks got a standing ovation for her memories of her father, Maryland Transportation Authority Police Cpl. Courtney Brooks, who was killed on New Year's Eve in 2007 in a hit-and-run.

"My father was Superman to me, so in my mind, nothing could happen to him," she said.

She said it was during her high school graduation when she realized he was truly gone, when she listened for her father's famous whistle and did not hear it.

"Despite the circumstances, this has been a blessing," she said, telling law enforcement officials and firefighters: "You make our lives easier and safer."

Rick Dempsey, former Baltimore Orioles catcher and the keynote speaker, led a song called "Here's to the Heroes."

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