“Unconscionable,” was how Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw described the number of police officers and firefighters lost since 2019.
The Living Flame Memorial Service was put on hold in 2020 and 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the 14 who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty during that time were finally honored at a ceremony in Franklin Square Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Philadelphia’s top brass, including Police Commissioner Outlaw, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, along with Mayor Jim Kenney, Pa. Governor Tom Wolf, and FOP president John McNesby, shared a stage to honor the fallen:
- Sergeant James O’Connor
- Captain James Walker
- Sergeant Jos Novoa
- Officer Tab Ali
- Captain Frank Milillo
- Sergeant Joseph Youse
- Officer Erin Tokley
- Officer Vladimir Maleev
- Corporal Deborah Rosaria, of the Philadelphia Police Department
- Firefighter Michael Bernstein
- Firefighter Eric M. Gore
- Fireboat Pilot John Evans
- Lieutenant Charles Grover
- Lieutenant Terrence Gordon, of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel told family members that all in the department were bruised and scarred by the losses, and recalled when COVID-19 shut down the world, the police and fire departments of Philadelphia were not shut down.
Fire Department Chaplain William Speakes comforted grieving family members in attendance with prayer. “There is no greater love than to lay down their lives for a friend,” he said.
Their names are now forever etched on the Living Flame Memorial, where their loved ones laid red and white carnations.