Today I attended the 2012 Virginia Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. During the service the 6 firefighters from the Commonwealth of Virginia were honored for their service, and dedication to Virginia’s fire service.
The service was great, it was not overstated but definitely not understated, and was perfect to provide some closure for the families (immediate and fire service).
Several Virginia Fire Departments played integral roles in either providing apparatus, honor guard, or just coordination of the event. A big thanks goes out the St. Andrews Legion Pipes and Drum Corps for providing the marching music. it just simply would not be a fire department function without pipes and drums and this band does an awesome job.
Here are some pictures:
Most of the pictures I took were on the outside as during the ceremony I did not think taking pictures was appropriate.
While sitting through the event, and often during things like this I began to have some self-reflection. Listening to the eulogies, reading the stories of the life and death of my fellow brothers, and seeing the reaction of the families and crowd mae me dwell on a few points.
1. I do not want my wife and kids getting one of those flags: This may initially come off as harsh but I am sure if you could ask the 6 honored today they would not have wanted this outcome for their family either. That flag while a great symbol of the dedication they served signals an end and sometimes and end not in the best of circumstances. Sure things happen in this job but I do not want my wife and kids sitting there getting that flag for something I could have prevented.
2. Have I let people know how I feel about them?: All fo the 6 honored had someone come up and speak about them. They all offered great stories, and kind words about the fallen. While those words are appreciated, I hope the fallen got to hear them while they were alive. I hope the people I care about (family and fire service family) know how I feel about them, but in case they don’t I am gonna make sure to let them know before they are no longer with us.
3. Motivation/reinforcement: While reading about the causes of these deaths mostly medical related in nature, It has validated the changes I have made in my diet, and fitness regimen. It also validated that the attention to detail, constant training, are truly the right path. These are things I have always known but every once in a while you need that validation. I know this path is the right one and I am motivated to continue walking it, and even expanding it! As I said earlier things happen on this job but I know I can prevent a lot of them by being well-trained (physically, and mentally), and doing the right things.
4. Sadness: You would think this emotion would be a prerequisite for events like this but usually I do not get sad I get mad. I get mad at the lack of turnout, I get mad that people can not take a few hours of their own time to pay respects to our fallen brothers. However this time I just felt sad. Sad for those who did not make it, as they missed out on a chance to view or participate in something that could change their life. Much like the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb so many people missed out on a chance to do something meaningful, and life changing. In just my department alone there are 600 firefighters, in the metro Richmond area there are probably around 2-3,000, who knows how many are in the entire Commonwealth and not a lot of people showed up to this event. I have gotten beyond anger and just feel sad for the ones who choose to pass up great chances.
Overall this was a great event! I am glad I went and will definitely go again.
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!