RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Thursday morning was the 24th annual Central Virginia Fallen Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services Memorial, which honors fallen first responders.

The event was hosted by the Richmond Fire Department, Richmond Professional Firefighters Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The names of 52 people who died protecting the citizens of Richmond were called out in Byrd Park. 

“It takes a special person… someone who has a love for their community,” said William Boger, with the Henrico Fire Department.

He said this ceremony is about coming together to make sure the community “never forgets.” 

“That is something we never want to do,” Boger said. “Forget those who have given their service to their community.” 

For Bill Gregory, today was personal. His uncle was a firefighter in Richmond, dying in the line of duty in 1974. 

“It was an accident on W. Marshall Street,” he said. “An engine crashed going to calls at the coliseum at 8 o’clock at night.”

Gregory calls his uncle a hero and says it’s important for him to be here every year to ensure that the memory of other fallen first responders lives on.