"It's in my blood, my whole family's done it, it's tradition. I'm a third-generation firefighter," says Christian Falkenhan, son of fallen firefighter, Mark Falkenhan.
A message told by the wet tears on their faces: families from across the country came to tell their loved ones, you'll never be forgotten.
"We honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. These fallen heroes embody the best of the American spirit: selflessness, courage and honor," says W. Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
This year the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial honors eighty-five men and women; each gave their lives in the line of duty.
"It's a bitter-sweet moment: you're very proud but the other side of that is you miss him, you miss him every time you hear his name," says Gladys Falkenhan, the wife of fallen firefighter, Mark Falkenhan.
"Each of the fallen firefighters that we honor is not just a name. There is a story about their commitment to the fire service, what they did for their communities, what they were involved with, but most of all they're a member of a family," says Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the International Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Families say the solidarity among the foundation is an unbreakable bond that helps them heal.
"This weekend has given us almost a full-circle and now we have that closure. We knew that if we could make it through the first year, and make it to here, to be with all these other families that have been through what we have been through, we could make it. We made it," says Gladys.
Fallen family members were recognized with an American flag and a red rose; they're honored by the firefighters today, who carry their legacy into the next generation.