For 27 years the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens sets aside the first Friday in May to honor men and women of the public safety community who have died in the line of duty.
This year's ceremony at the Timonium cemetery held the distinction of honoring the fewest Fallen Heroes—just one—Maryland State Trooper First Class Shaft Hunter.
Hunter, 39, died on May 21, 2011, when his police cruiser collided with the back of a parked tractor-trailer on the shoulder of Interstate 95 in Howard County near the Laurel rest area. Friends and colleagues remember Hunter as "high-energy, funny and a true professional."
On Friday, before a crowd of over 1,000 police, firefighters, friends and family, Hunter's 11 dedicated years of service in uniform were remembered and celebrated.
He was a Police Officer of the Year nominee, a decorated Marine, devoted husband, son and loving father of six.
"It doesn't matter what kind of uniform you were trained to wear. We are all in the brotherhood of protecting and serving our communities," said Sue Nickerson, fallen hero survivor and president of the Concerns of Police Survivors-Maryland Chapter.
In keeping with tradition, families of past fallen heroes are presented with the governor's proclamation.
Firefighter Thomas L. Graves, Jr. and officer George N. Ramsburg were both acknowledged at the event.
Graves was a Prince George's County firefighter who died on April 16, 1980 in a natural gas explosion. Ramsburg was a member of the Maryland Aviation Administration Police Department (now Maryland Transportation Authority Police). Ramsburg was killed in an attempted plane hijacking at Baltimore Washington International airport on Feb. 22, 1974.