The solemn sound of Taps among the graves, bagpipers playing Amazing Grace and the American flag blowing in the distance remind loved ones of the responsibility and honor first responders carry with them on the job every day.
For 20 years, family friends and colleagues have gathered to remember former first responders.
Eight retired firefighters and 31 police officers were honored posthumously Sunday at El Camino Memorial Park cemetery in Sorrento Valley. Permanent memorials to first responders have been established at the cemetery.
The annual event pays homage to retired fire fighters, life guards and police officers who passed away over the last year.
“When you're engaged in public service it’s always good to know that you are remembered for your contributions to society and to those who made contributions to the city of San Diego and we memorialize that each year,” David Hall, President of the City of San Diego Retired Fire and Police Association, tells NBC 7.
Hall explains the importance of the doves being released into the air during the ceremony.
“We see the releasing of the doves as basically an expression of freedom. We’ve done this for quite a few years now. It’s a part of the ritual of conducting the memorial service,” he says.
He says the memorial is important not just for those who’ve passed but helps those left behind.
“It provides an honor to their contribution to the city of San Diego,” Hall adds.