Today I spent my afternoon attending a memorial service for four members of the Houston Fire Department that tragically lost their lives battling a five-alarm fire last Friday, one of which was a childhood friend of mine. The service was beautiful – a wonderful way to pay tribute to four Houstonians who will forever be remembered as heroes.
I’ve been to funerals before but this one was different, more powerful. Sitting in Reliant Stadium, listening to the various speakers and family members recount the lives of each fallen fire fighter, and describe the ultimate sacrifice that each of these four (and thousands of others before) made, I was hit with such a realization – as a society, I think we really undervalue the sacrifices made by thousands of servicemen each and everyday…at least I know I do. To be honest, I’ve never truly stopped to think about exactly what fire fighters have to endure. Fire is one of my biggest fears, and these men and women face it head-on, battling a terrifying danger every single day and never asking for a single thank you in return, so that the rest of us can go around conducting business as usual. As Governor Rick Perry said at the memorial today, “Your loved ones gave other people at chance at life. They boldly march into harm’s way to save lives, and we are blessed to live in a world with dedication like that.”
For that, I want to give every firefighter (police officer, EMT, and soldier) a thank you. Really, I want to give you all a thousand thank you’s for keeping the rest of us safe every day. You truly are all heroes, and will always be remembered as such. For the four firefighters that were remembered today – Anne Sullivan, Robert Garner, Robert Bebee and Matthew Renaud – thank you for your courage and your dedication. Thank you for making me want to be a better person and become someone else’s hero, as you have become all of ours. And thank you for reminding me that life is fleeting, and that we need to take the time to appreciate everything and everyone because tomorrow is never guaranteed.
We can never bring back those lives that were lost. But we can make sure that their actions live on through the rest of us. And we can damn sure make sure that the other men and women fighting battles for us everyday (whether those battles take form as flames or people) know how much we appreciate everything that they do.
After experiencing the kind of memorial service that I did today, I know that I’m forever going to look at their service in an entirely new light, and I hope I’m not alone in that because these men and women deserve it.