10/17/05 — Heroes among us: Appreciation need not wait until emergencies strike

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Heroes among us: Appreciation need not wait until emergencies strike

Pageant director Shari Stewart said something before Saturday’s crowning of the Wayne County Fire Princess that should make all of us stop, think and remember that heroes are often hardest to see when they are close to home.

She said that often, it takes a tragedy involving a fireman or other rescue personnel for us to acknowledge the work they do and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis, often without thought to their own personal safety.

She and the young women involved in the Fire Princess Pageant understood that they were not just competing for a title and a crown. They were honoring the hundreds of men and women who set aside time with their families, put their lives at risk and make sure that hundreds of county families each year are safe from the ravages of fire.

Wayne County’s volunteer fire departments are spread from one border to the other and include volunteers from all walks of life. They give their time to train, maintain equipment and stand ready just in case there is an emergency. They spend their own money often for equipment and sometimes training, and they ask for nothing in return, except for an occasional participation in a station fundraiser, or the purchase of a hotdog from one of their booths at the county fair.

They are often the first people on an accident scene, and they are also ready to assist whenever they hear an emergency call.

Far from standing in the limelight, they are often hidden in the shadows, proud of what they do, but uncomfortable with the title of hero.

Because, of course, most of them do not think what they do is even the least bit heroic.

They are simply doing their duty.

So, perhaps Mrs. Stewart is right, thinking about the volunteer firefighters, and those who also work in the profession for a living as well as in law enforcement, might be best done now, while we can reflect on their contribution to this community, without having to shed a tear.

That is the best way to never forget how lucky we are to have so many people in Wayne County who are looking out for someone other than themselves — no matter what the risk.

And to say thank you.

Published in Editorials on October 17, 2005 10:12 AM