Fallen firefighter memorial honors lives lost

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OCALA, Fla., (WCB) -- Thursday night we reported about a city-wide fallen firefighter memorial. Well today, we're bringing you to florida's official memorial service, held right in Ocala.

The service today honored four firefighters killed from 2017-2018.

It was a touching ceremony. The firefighters were honored with traditional pipes and drums, an honor guard, and folded flags were given to the family members.

TV20's Olana Osborn spoke to some of those family members today, who say they're at a loss for words as they describe their appreciation for the ceremony.

“It's hard to describe, it’s overwhelming, heartbreaking, it’s amazing, all of the above," said Brian Atkinson, a Lieutenant with Tallahassee Fire Department, "It’s unfortunate we have to be here, but it’s pretty amazing to see what everybody is willing to do for somebody else.”

Atkinson has been working in fire rescue for 26 years -- today, he's honoring his brother, Jeffrey Atkinson, who also served in fire rescue for 17 years.

“It makes it a lot closer to home, you always read about it somewhere else, and this time you getting the phone calls and it’s your family,” Atkinson said.

Each firefighter was lost too soon.

“He was about 11 months shy from his retirement from his 25 years,” said Jennie Terry, who lost her husband.

But this ceremony celebrates the dedication of those serving our communities.

“We are going to see today is just an incredible ceremony of passion, emotion, discipline, honor," said Jimmy Patronis, the State's CFO and Fire Marshall, "As our military protects our sovereignty, and our borders, these men and women protect our homes and our communities.”

Through their tears, the families are thankful
“I have no words for it, it’s an amazing thing, like I said, you can’t describe it,” Atkinson said.

“It’s very humbling, and I’m just very thankful,” Terry continued.

On behalf of WCJB-TV20, thank you to all our local men and women in fire rescue and EMS, across North Central Florida.