When I was a child, my dreams alternated between being a fireman or a forest ranger. I entertained heroic images of the former and romantic ones of the later. As it turns out, I ended up following a totally different path, but one that brought me into close contact with a number of firefighters. My admiration for them rekindles every time the Santa Ana winds blow their hot, dry breath across the Southern California landscape, too often bringing a storm of fire and smoke to light up the dry timber of the Angeles mountains.
Duty sends these brave men rushing into peril as they challenge one of nature’s most elemental forces in an effort to protect our property and our lives. While we flee with those few precious photo albums hurriedly thrown into the back seat of our cars, they remain in harm’s way, their sirens screaming defiance, their hoses shooting water like cannon fire into heat so intense that it melts steel. Undaunted by the inferno of wind and fire, they hold the line because what they do is more than a job for them – it’s a consecrated duty, a moral commitment.
There is a brotherhood amongst firefighters, a camaraderie that those of us on the outside can barely fathom. I remember how after the tragedy of 9/11, Paul, a fire captain married to one of Miki’s co-workers, along with hundreds of others like him, flew back to New York to man a station so that those firemen who sacrificed their lives in the Twin Towers could have their funerals attended by the survivors in their companies. I also recall how deeply the loss of these comrades on the opposite shore of our country affected Paul; all firefighters are part of the same family.
If you ask these men, “What is there that drives you forward in settings that would make most others flee for their lives? What kind of altruism makes you stare down a power so much greater than your own?” most will respond self-deprecatingly, “We do it because it’s our job.” I think there is a lot more to it than that.
There is a tradition, nobility buried in the essence of a firefighter’s soul. There is a willingness to make an effort beyond the restraints of caution built into each of us, to surmount barriers of personal fear, to run forward when the mind screams to turn back. Perhaps those who have shown heroic action in combat can understand; most of us never will. Eighty-four firemen have given their lives just this year trying to protect our own. We can only honor them in words, in ceremonies. So let us be grateful, let us raise our hands in salute. We have heroes, and they pass amongst us each day.
Many months ago I met you when you were featured on Best of MSN. What a great day that was for me. 🙂 I was just by Holy\’s and saw your comment…I took the advice you gave her and popped by to say congrats.
Firefighters. Hmmmm…yes, I think there is more to it than that too. We all feel that if someone we loved were in danger we would risk our lives to save them. but how many of us would do that daily for people we had never met? Only a special kind of person…indeed.
Congrats, Jorge…well deserved, of course!
So true. If one can be so in love with the writings alone, you have my vote. I was touched by this post.. I love my hero.
Congratulations on being featured…I\’ve done a little snooping around here and it seems it\’s well deserved. And you\’ve been featured more than once! That\’s really awesome. I have many friends that are firefighters and I\’ll agree they are a special breed of person. What a wonderful tribute you have paid them this day. God bless!
Wie Geht\’s, Jorge? Thanks again for inviting me over! Congratulations on being featured this week! Well deserved! Today is the last day of this week I will be able to read, though, as Victor and I are off on another one of our European adventures, off to another city and country that we have not yet been to. So, have yourself a good Thanksgiving weekend and I\’ll catch up with you soon!
Hey Jorge – at the butt end of a truly butt-ended week or so, it was great to see you there, there\’s always something good to read here. You\’re one that people come back to, and you always give a lift. Congrats.
Congrats on being selected….Wonderful commentary on fire fighters….
Congratulations on being featured on Best of MSN Spaces this week, it\’s always a delight to discover what other people across the globe blog about.
Keep up the good work.
7 comments and 70,000 hits – must be an MSN feature week!
Congratulations for being featured..:-) it is exciting! It\’s always a treat to read your words.
As always, a wonderfully uplifting read….thankyou!
Jorge, A firefighter friend of mine was recently made Captain and another is the State Fire Marshall and used to be Fire Chief here in Peoria. Yes there is something more that dirves these brave men and women to place themselves in harm\’s way to protect the lives of others. My brother John was a volunteer at ground zero on 911, and worked through the night. No one made him go it and it was not his job. In all walks of life there is sometimes a higher calling.
I am pleased and proud to say congratulations! Again! My Friend for being featured. You deserve the recognition. ( great poem, by the way.) Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours on behalf of the Cast and Crew at the Painting Studio and all the Flying Monkeys. As ever be well. Stephen Craig Rowe
Thanks for the feedback. I enjoyed your blog and will back to read more… Zeynep.
Very early good morning, Jorge!
Thank you for sharing this powerful entry.
My late dad was a firefighter as is my ex-husband. From experience, I can say these are extraordinary human beings who have a different perception of danger and mortality than most of us. When they suit up to roll on a fire call, fire ceases to be of personal danger to them, becoming, instead, The Enemy. Where most "sane" human beings flee from a fire, firefighters proceed into a flame-engulfed structure, watching and listening for signs of lives in peril. It is their job to save those lives and to minimize damage to the property involved. That\’s it.
Most require no thanks, insisting it\’s their job. Personally, I respect that attitude. The best thanks one can give is to pull over to the side of the street, highway or road when fire trucks approach on their mission. Wait for them to pass by. Offer a prayer if the notion presents itself.
Those men and women can use all the help they can get.
Peace and love, always…
Jorge, thank you for your wise words. it\’s the courages i need the most to take the leap from a life i\’ve comfortably lived for so long into something new.i loved the postcards from your trip.
Hi Jorge! Congrats on your feature – you certainly deserve it. I always enjoy reading your posts.
Thank you for the reminder that we all can be heroic.
So glad to see you featured again. It is how I found you – the last time you were featured – and I hope many more bloggers find you and enjoy your gentle, informative, poetic blog.
Thanks also for the firefighter entry. They are definitely heroes!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. My daughter and I are off to spend Thanksgiving with my stepdaughter in Seattle.
Congratulations for being featured on MSN… you do write very eloquently.
A hero lives in all of us… and there are many who live and breath heroic actions each and every day… and get very little recognition for their heroic deeds. This posting was excellent.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Jorge. I wish you many many more thankful moments to be had…
Hello dear one, thank you for stopping in to check on me. Life is so wonderful! I am happy within.
What a year it has been for me! But, what a better person for it all.
I think of you today and great respect and honor to you know you beats in my heart.
best to you and your family and many friends at this time of thanks. Thanks for you dear………..
The year has turned its circle,The seasons come and go.The harvest all is gathered inAnd chilly north winds blow.Orchards have shared their treasures,The fields, their yellow grain,So open wide the doorway – Thanksgiving comes again! LOVE FROM LINDA
You are so wonderful to give thanks to firefighters like this… they too often go unnoticed and unappreciated. They do, indeed, deserve awe and gratefullness from us all. I know I couldn\’t do that job… I am thankful there are people out there who can, and who do so superbly!