I am a firm believer that anyone who puts the needs and safety of others above his or her own safety and security, on a regular basis, should be considered a hero.
We often refer to our service members as heroes, but today I want to take a minute to recognize the First Responders as well. While our service members go far and wide as heroes, First Responders are right here next to us in our communities. I am proud to not only be a Marine Wife, but also to be the sister of an EMT/Firefighter.
My little brother and I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona with an acute sense of fire and how quickly it can grow uncontrolled. On Sunday, June 30th our community of heroes suffered a devastating loss as 19 highly trained Hot Shot Firefighters gave it all to save the lives of hundreds of residents in the small town of Yarnell, Arizona. Several of these brave men were former Marines, and several were men that my brother considered friends. Our family as a whole is hurting. Not only did the country suffer the greatest loss of firefighters since September 11th, not only did my brother lose friends and colleagues, but in one fell swoop 19 families lost their heroes.
I want to honor these brave men for a moment, because they are heroes. They made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others, and while they are not the first, nor will they be the last to lay down their lives in favor of the greater good, it is a grave reminder of the sacrifices that are inherent to heroism.
Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for danger. To me, bravery is facing danger head on and having the gumption to continue. What those men did, what our men do, the fact that they face danger with courage and bravery in the name of something greater than themselves is admirable and noble. So as we grieve for the loss of these heroes, we must pull ourselves out of the ashes and honor their sacrifices.
We must join together as a community to support our brothers and sisters in arms whether the enemy is an insurgent or a wildfire. Both sacrifices are just as devastating. It isn’t easy to love a hero, to kiss our loved ones goodbye as they go off to fight for the good of others, but it is what we do because it is what is noble and good and just.
This is certainly one of my more somber posts, but having such close ties to the tragedy offers me an insight and an obligation to honor these brave men. My heart hurts for these families, just as it breaks each and every time families lose their heroes in the name of the greater good. But on the same note, I hug my little brother with a full heart knowing that I am lucky enough to have two heroes in my life.
I am grateful for the sacrifices that are inherent to loving someone who is brave and courageous enough to fight to save others. Without these sacrifices, I wouldn’t be able to write this today with tears in my eyes and pride in my heart as I encourage us all to rise out of the ashes and honor the memory of every hero who has made the ultimate sacrifice doing what they love for the love of others.
There have been several fundraisers set up to benefit the families of the 19 men that were lost.
If you wish to help please visit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation or you may choose to support a close family friend who was lost in the blaze and leaves behind his fiance and unborn child.
Photos courtesy of In Memory of Prescott Firefighters and Kyle Runo.