Monday, June 3, 2013

For Their Strength Gives Us Strength....

Courage is not the Absence of Fear but
rather the Judgment that something else
is more Important than Fear.
- Ambrose Redmoon

Time and again I use this space to extol the virtues of those among us who are so selfless and so brave that when logic and common sense might dictate joining the rest of us in running from the Gates of Hell as fast as they can, they instead charge towards them with all dispatch, placing themselves between Danger and Us in an effort to ensure that much like the twain we shall never meet. 

On Friday afternoon, four members of the Houston Texas Fire Department died in the line of duty.  May 31, 2013 now stands as the deadliest day in the history of the Houston Fire Department.  I sincerely doubt that anyone ever hopes to see it cede its rather ignominious distinction.  At shortly after 12:00 PM on Friday, a small fire was reported at a restaurant attached to a motel, the Southwest Inn, which is located in Southwest Houston.  Within fourteen minutes of member of the HFD arriving on the scene and putting themselves in harm's way both combating the fire and making sure that the four dozen or so registered motel guests were safe, a mayday call was sounded.  According to HFD Chief Terry Garrison, "We had an early and quick catastrophic failure of the roof."

More than one dozen members of the HFD were injured in addition to the four members of the Department who were killed.   Capt. EMT Matthew Renaud, 35, and Engineer Operator EMT Robert Bebee, 41 years young, both of whom had been with the HFD since 2001 and both of whom were from Station 51 were among the four HFD members who gave their lives saving others on Friday.  Also killed were two members of Station 68, twenty-nine-year-old Firefighter EMT Robert Garner and the baby of the group, Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan.  Sullivan was but twenty-four years old.  She graduated from the Academy in April, 2013.   

May the selfless deeds of the brave men and women of the Houston Fire Department who died on Friday afternoon saving the lives of strangers be long remembered.  May their families and loved ones be cared for and protected by the members of the community in which they shall now live without those they have lost in a manner similar to the manner in which their loved ones gave their own lives to protect and care for that very same community. 

And may those of us whose day-to-day never requires us to lay down our life for another never cease to thank whoever or whatever it is we thank for such things that these men and women walk and live among us.  They wear neither cowl nor cape.  Yet they are every inch a hero.  And may we never forget to thank them for what they do while acknowledging that if called upon to do likewise, we know not for certain that we could....


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