FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (WABC) -- The salute was solemn and the hugs were long -- all in memory of fallen FDNY firefighter Jesse Gerhard.
"So today in the firehouse, we gather to offer some level of comfort on our promise to never forget," said FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens.
The 33-year-old collapsed at a firehouse in Far Rockaway one year ago after battling a nearby blaze.
"To our Jesse, no words could express how proud we are of you," said his father, Bruce Gerhard.
The pain is still raw for Jesse's dad.
"After his death, because of YouTube, I started listening to the previous eulogies and plaque dedications. IT was the same thing over and over again. These people gave their lives for something bigger than themselves," he said.
FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh thanked Gerhard and his family for his seven years of service ahead of a plaque dedication in his honor.
"He brought out the very best in us. His life is an inspiration for all of us and will inspire many others for generations to come," said Kavanaugh.
Gerhard, a Long Island native joined the Islip Fire Department at 18.
"He was so happy when he got called to become a New York City fireman, and he was also super ecstatic about getting assigned into the Rockaways here at 134," said Islip Fire Department Commissioner Owen McCaffrey.
"He brought such energy and passion to the job every day," said Ladder 134 firefighter Michael Ormiston.
"We miss you. We love you. And life will never be the same without you," said his father.
It is a bond that is eternally unbreakable.
"Till we meet again, my friend. We will work hard, we will play hard for Jesse Gerhard," Ormiston added.
Although the plaque dedication was Saturday, it will be taken on a later day to be mounted in the firehouse.