EMMITSBURG, MD (Gray DC) -- This weekend, a Meridian firefighter who died in the line of duty last year received national recognition. His family and members of his fire department traveled up to Maryland for a ceremony honoring fallen firefighters.
The loss of 40-year-old Eric Gustafson is still surreal to those who knew him. But his mother, sister and fellow firemen say this National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service has lifted their spirits.
“There’s still a hole in my heart, but it’s been comforted with the love and support shown by so many people here over this weekend," said Jan Gustafson, Eric's mother.
Gustafson died in an accident in September 2016.
His mother says being a firefighter was a top honor for her son and now she's grateful for all the love and support coming from Meridian and the larger firefighter community.
“We miss him and we know he’s in a great place and he’s certainly has joined a phenomenal family of firefighters across the nation," said Jan.
Gustafson is one of 95 firefighters whose names are now added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
A series of events this weekend brought together hundreds of family members, friends and firefighters to this site to honor their loved ones. They will also be able to visit the new plaque that has all the names of the firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2016.
“It gave me a better understanding of what firefighters do and the family they truly have and just hearing the stories of other families who have lost firefighter loved ones - it’s just an amazing experience," said Lori Gustafson Lundgren, Eric's sister.