, Salem, MA

April 10, 2014

Letter: Who would come for you?

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

In your most terrifying, life-threatening moment, who would come for you? Who would you trust to find you and know what to do? Who would have the skills and selfless determination to find you? Firefighters. And if they got the call too late or never, who would carefully carry you out with the same resolve? Firefighters.

During a week of such profound sorrow steeped in pageantry and honor for two more firefighters who gave their lives for us, we witnessed thousands of other firefighters most assuredly face their own mortality, as they must do every day when that alarm sounds. Are they more fearless than the rest of us? No. They are courageous in the face of fear in a vocation that surely chose them. They seem to do what they were chosen to do above all other things ... run into those burning buildings when everyone else is running out, climb into that burning car to rescue someone before it explodes, or run that lifeless child to the EMTs.

Are we selfishly reassured that they have our backs? Yes. That they would come for us no matter the cost? Yes. That’s why we couldn’t stop watching the honors bestowed on them. Why we felt the pain of the father who placed his son’s medal on his casket and the wife’s heartbreak over the lost wedding ring. Why moms bring their little children to the firehouses. We teach our children that they are larger-than-life heroes, the ones who lift them into the firetrucks and turn on the lights, much to their delight, are their protectors.

What do we do for them with the same resolve? Should we do more? Yes. To the very best of our collective ability, we should be there for them and have their backs. Show our deep appreciation for answering the call to their selfless vocation. Make sure they have the equipment and resources they need to save us and themselves. Make sure their firehouses reflect our respect for them. And maybe most importantly, acknowledge the life lesson they teach us every day by their fine example, that the greater calling for all of us is to be there for each other.

Thank you, firefighters.

Debbie Ryan