PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) --The raw weather that swept across Franklin Square Park Wednesday could not dampen the spirit and focus of a solemn ceremony.
Hundreds of people gathered for the Living Flame Memorial Service, held in honor of police officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. Relatives of the deceased joined the city's top brass in paying their respects.
The city started the annual tradition more than 20 years ago. It now honors the memory of more than 500 Philadelphia police officers and firefighters who've fallen in the line of duty.
Fire department records dating back to 1871 show 290 members of the Philadelphia department have made the ultimate sacrifice. Since 1828, there have been 270 recorded deaths of Philadelphia police officers who died in service.
"Seeing the people coming from the audience to place the flowers on the memorial, the numbers of lives, the loss of our brave people have caused such change in so many lives," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
Walter DeWitt IV and his mother, Denise, struggled to console each other as the city brought the name of Walter DeWitt III onto the roster of those memorialized. Officer DeWitt spent a total of 34 years on the police force before succumbing to injuries last June he sustained back in '95.
"He did work with an injury from 1995 when the police cruiser lost control on him at a high rate of speed," said Walter DeWitt IV, son.
It is our hope no new names will be added to the Living Flame Monument when they gather next year - same time, same place.