First responders learn how to honor fallen comrades

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When an officer or a firefighter passes away it takes a toll on the whole community who just lost a hero. This week firefighters from multiple New Mexico agencies were trained on how to properly lay a fallen first responder to rest.

On Thursday afternoon, a hearse was escorted into an Albuquerque cemetery by emergency vehicles. National Honor Guard Academy students stand by and salute as the hearse come to a stop.

“We are making sure that we honor our fallen, making sure that they are represented and honored their families are cared for, the service that they provide to their communities, is nothing that can be measured, or really put a value on,” National Honor Guard Academy Commander Doug Swartz said.

As Honor Guard students pull the casket out of the hearse, we remember this isn’t a real funeral – rather it’s a practice run for all of the officers who were a part of fire Honor Guard training class in the state.

“You know, we asked the students the first day why are they here, and that’s always it is to make sure that we’re doing this right. There’s only one chance to honor that, that lost officer, and do it with honor, dignity, and respect,” Swartz said.

To some, this might just look like some pomp and circumstance, but for those who have dedicated their lives to serving the community, it’s an age-old tradition that carries deep importance.

“I get goosebumps thinking about what it means,” Honor Guard student David Adame said. “If you’ve never been to a ceremony like this or have had to go to… one word can’t tell you what it means and how it feels. Just hearing the pipes play, seeing the movement that the Honor Guard or the members make, doing it with love and respect. It means everything.”

Throughout Thursday’s class, they are doing more than just carrying a casket – they are carrying on a tradition.