Philadelphia’s police and fire departments did not have to suffer through the tragedy of a new line-of-duty death during the 12-month period between May 2013 and April of this year.
Yet, they added a new name to the city’s Living Flame Memorial nonetheless. Detective Gerard W. Traynor was added to the engraved markers that surround the monument in Franklin Square. On May 6, top city officials joined rank-and-file police and firefighters and their loved ones in paying tribute to Traynor along with 556 others who have lost their lives in the line of duty during the city’s recorded history.
Traynor died on June 21, 1987, from a job-related heart attack. He was 41 years old and served the police department for 16 years. His widow, Lucille; son, Gerard Jr., and daughter, Joann, placed flowers at the memorial as did Mayor Michael Nutter, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
“On this solemn occasion, we remember our fallen police officers and firefighters who selflessly gave their lives serving and protecting the citizens of our city,” Nutter said. “It is with enduring gratitude that we will never forget their sacrifices. We offer our deepest sympathy to all of the families who have lost their loved ones — a wife, husband, son, daughter, father or mother — in the line of duty. The City of Philadelphia is forever in their debt.”
The most recent line-of-duty death in either department occurred on April 6, 2013, when fire Capt. Mike Goodwin, a Parkwood resident, perished in a blaze at a South Philadelphia fabric store. His name was added to the memorial last May.
Traynor was assigned to the Northwest Detective Division at the time of his death. One day before his passing, he rushed to the aid of a fellow detective in an effort to foil the escape of an aggressive prisoner. Traynor’s co-worker was under attack when the detective intervened. Traynor engaged in the violent confrontation and helped to subdue the prisoner. Traynor subsequently suffered a heart attack.
During last week’s ceremony, vocalist Kevonna Venable sang The Star-Spangled Banner, while the Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums performed a poignant musical tribute along with the Police Department Honor Guard and the Police and Fire Department Buglers. Trained white doves were released at the conclusion to symbolically honor the fallen officers’ and firefighters’ ultimate sacrifice.
The Living Flame Memorial Service coincided with National Police Week. The annual commemorance began in 1962 and includes a Blue Mass at Holy Family University, as well as ceremonies at the national memorial in Washington, D.C. ••