President Obama traveled to Waco, Texas Thursday to attend a memorial service for victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in the nearby town of West.
A somber procession of more than 4,000 firefighters and emergency responders from across the country arrived to honor their fallen brothers.
"It really is an emotional time when you lose so many friends. Even though I didn't know them they were still brothers to me in the fire service," said Mike Green of Waxahachie, Texas.
Of the 15 people who lost their lives in the fire and horrific explosion, most were first responders who rushed to the scene.
The service was a show of strength, solidarity and resolve."The ground shook in West, Texas, collapsed buildings and broke hearts, but it couldn't break this community," said Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
President Obama also offered words of encouragement.
"Today I see in the people of West, in your eyes, that what makes West special, isn't going to go away. And instead of changing who you are, this tragedy has simply revealed who you've always been," Mr. Obama said.