A final goodbye to a fallen hero

By Alyssa Donovan

March 11, 2013 Updated Mar 12, 2013 at 11:03 AM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. -- More than 1,500 friends, family and fellow firefighters filled the Eastview Christian Church in Normal Monday morning to celebrate the life of Bloomington and Hudson firefighter Chris Brown.

Brown, 39, died in the line of duty on Tuesday when a semi-truck crashed into Hudson fire department vehicles on Interstate 39.

Bloomington Fire Chief Jeff Emmert said that although he and Brown treated one another like brothers, he loved Brown like a son.

"There's not enough paper to tell you what Chris Brown meant to me," Emmert said. "So I'll just have to hold everything I know about him right here in my heart forever."

Those that knew him best spoke not only of how much he will be missed, but of how much he loved his family and the laughter and joy he brought to those in his life.

Peoria Heights Fire Chief, and uncle to Brown, Greg Walters became choked up while talking about his nephew.

"I am proud to have known and loved this man," Walter said. "Chris Brown you made a difference in the world."

However, Walters would not let that be the last thing he did in Brown's honor.

"I cannot and will not leave this podium on a sad note because sadness does not describe Chris at all," Walters said. "I ask you to participate in a celebration of Chris. Now stand up, throw your hands on the air and jump around."

And as the song ‘Jump Around’ began to play, everyone followed the orders of the Chief.

Taps was played as the flag was folded. A final bell was rung and a final page was played over the loud speaker.

Brown's helmets were presented to his two sons and the flag to his wife, who Walters said were Brown's whole world.

"He was living the American dream... He married the love of his life and had two wonderful boys," Walters said.

As bagpipes were played, the hundreds of fire fighters lined the walkway that led to the final resting place of their fallen comrade...a devoted family man, a jokester of a friend and a dedicated firefighter.