“We fight with COURAGE, We stand with PRIDE, We HONOR those who have lost their lives”

Seems like a pretty good way to live your life.  It would be fitting to be stenciled into a wall in an Army Barrack, or plastered on a poster above an Armed Service Recruiters desk.  Pretty self explanatory it seems.  The stuff that pushes Armies to conquer their foe.

Let’s look at it a little closer though.  Courage is defined as  “ mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”. Simply put, it’s having the balls and intestinal fortitude to face your fears, or even the fear of others, head on without turning and running the other way. For some, they are so loaded with it, it almost seems as if they can never be rattled.  These are the men and women that come back from a tour overseas with a chest full of medals and honors.

Pride is a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people. Pride many times goes hand in hand with courage. Getting the hero’s welcome as you step off the plane, watching your teenager walk across the stage and receive their diploma.  It’s a state of mind.  A feeling of self respect.

Honorrespect given to someone that is deserving of it.   It’s something this country has done for years.  President’s Day, MLK Jr Day, remembering Pearl Harbor, are all ways we have honored those who have helped shape our past and made this country the great place it is today.

Less than one week ago, my little corner of the world was shook by one word, “MAYDAY”.  Two Toledo firefighters who had walked onto the scene of a North End fire, thinking it was just going to be another job, ended up giving the greatest sacrifice.  They lost their lives.  One, a 16 year veteran, who was once quoted as saying “I can’t believe we get paid for this!“.  Someone who loved what he did, and did it well.  The other, a 10 year vet, but who had only been on the department since September. This was his dream job.  He had always wanted to be a Toledo Firefighter.  He was still in the Academy, but drew an assignment only because he already had the certifications  that allowed him to do it.

 “We fight with COURAGE, We stand with PRIDE, We HONOR those who lost their lives”, is not just any old phrase or saying though.  This was the motto of the current recruitment class for TFRD.  It’s a motto that stands true for the fire service just as much as it does for the military.  Courage is running into that burning building, knowing that there may be someone in there that needs your help.  Pride is being able to back the truck into that station knowing you have just given a family another day with their loved one, or saved some of their memories by putting that fire out.  And Honor….that’s what we did last night. We honored the memory of those two from House 3 that gave their lives because they were over flowing with Courage.  And here’s the thing…this class motto, was penned by the one member of that class that lost his life.  

I was amazed by the turnout.  Detroit, Washington DC, Toronto, Orange County California, Chicago and even FDNY were in attendance last night to pay their last respects.  And it left me speechless.  I have never experienced anything like that in my life.  It was my first LODD memorial, and I could not imagine any other way to thank these courageous men and honor them for the service they provided to their community.  Having been a fireman before I decided to go into EMS, I had always believed in “The Brotherhood”, and thought I had a pretty firm grasp on exactly what it meant to be a part of it.  But standing there waiting to go in, and watching what seemed like an endless number of firefighters parade in wearing their dress blues, and seeing conversation after conversation between guys that were on departments separated by hundreds, if not thousands of miles, really put a whole new spin on what the Brotherhood meant.  There is no denying that this is a very tightly knit group.  When one guy is hurting, when one department is down, there is no end to the number of brothers that will come to support them.  And it gave me an even bigger sense of pride knowing that I was once part of that.

I want to take just one more minute of my time to address any of you reading this that are firefighters.  Thank you so very much for doing what you do. Being in EMS, and even having been involved in fire before, you often hear it from random people on the street.  But, it isn’t often you hear a brother say it.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting your lives on the line everyday to save others. Your service to your community doesn’t go unnoticed.  Please everyone, Be Safe.  Because everyone needs to go home.

Dawn Petranek                                          JJ Greulich