Why ride to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty?
When I heard of the news that one of my brothers had died, I felt so low.
We had never met, I never shook your hand, our wives did not know each other, nor did your kids call me uncle. But I knew I had lost a brother.
You were a total stranger to me, but there was a lump in my throat and a hole in my heart.
Why did it bother me so much, why could my wife tell that I had lost another friend?
Why did I feel I needed to show how firefighters, police officers and emergency responders are all brothers?
You had worn the same uniform as mine, that of an emergency responder. You had taken the same oath to protect lives and property, to serve and protect, care for the sick and you knew that the oath was more than a bunch of words to get on the job.
You knew from the day that you repeated those words that you would have to put your life on the line to save others. You knew that if you had to, you would risk everything to save someone who you never met.
We are not like other workers; we expect to be in danger from the start of our shift until we are relieved by another emergency responder. We will defend and protect anyone who calls us without hesitation.
I wonder what you thought as you made the ultimate sacrifice. I can only hope that as you lay in the darkened smoke filled hallway or on the dark lonely street, you knew that your brothers were coming to get you.
We know that they were unable to get to you in time, but rest assured brother they finished the job you started, they made your community safe again.
So my brother, I was not able to be with you when you paid the ultimate price, but my brothers and I have come here to honor you. We know that you will say “I was only doing my job.” No, you were doing the work of God and we will not apologize for reminding everyone that you gave your life to protect their community.
So why do we train so hard to ride for a total stranger? Why do we ride in all different kinds of weather: rain, wind, cold, heat? Why do we sleep where ever we can find space on a floor? Why would we do this for a total stranger? We wouldn’t, but we will for our brothers.
We always say NEVER FORGET, but time moves on and people will forget about that day. Rest assured we will remind them that there are families and co-workers who still have a whole in their heart that will never be filled.
We are not heroes, but we are proud to wear the names of the heroes on our back for all to see.
So stand down my brother, you have completed your shift. Let our legs carry your memory and remind all who will listen that “You gave your life to save a total stranger”.