Remembering the 343
The fire department has been a huge part of my life - at least for as long as I've known my husband. He became a firefighter when he was 18 so that's all I've known with him. It's not just something Tim does, it's who he is.
While I can honestly say there have been many times the fire service has frustrated me - from the cold suppers, missed family moments, and drama that comes with any group - there have been more blessings than disappointments through the years.
When your spouse is involved so deeply into something they love, you find a way to be a part of it and support it. Over the years, I've done more than my share of fundraisers, from chili suppers to auctions to grant writing and more. I've served as secretary at some point on both departments Tim's been with (still currently doing that one). I've cleaned gear, ordered t-shirts, kept dinners warm, and been there to listen or give him space on runs that haunted him. I even joined myself, if only for the short while it ended up to be.
Joining was something that always interested me. In helping Tim study for his EMT certification, I felt like I could've aced the test too. I remember so many times I'd be in the truck with him when he was paged out. As I sat in the vehicle, amidst the sirens and lights, and witnessed first hand how he helped, something stirred in me to do it too. After awhile, I grew tired of just sitting on the sidelines when I could be helping alongside Tim.
I joined in 2005 and it was one of the best acts of service of my life. Of course, 05' would also be the year of our wreck and I was never the same. My knee kept me from doing so much and I knew I could never give 100% - and that just isn't me. So, I'm back to serving in other ways but I'll never forget the few months I got to truly experience what Tim has done for over 25 years.
There is no better feeling than to help someone. To be at their side to calm them in the chaos of a wreck. To hold a little girl's hand as she watches firefighters ease the flames that attack her house. To bring medical aid to someone, scared and alone. And, to see the expression of children when they realize a GIRL is driving a fire truck. Each time it happened, I'd scan the crowd for faces of young girls, hoping in some way seeing me would inspire them to grow up and be anything they wanted to be.
Today is 9/11.... a day that will forever be etched into all of our memories. For those belonging to the fire service though, it is especially somber, as we think about and remember the 343 firefighters who willingly walked into that terror and gave their lives to save others.
That's a heavy picture and may seem strange in a blog about joy. But when I hear that number "343" which probably has little to meaning to someone outside the fire service, many thoughts come to mind. ...sadness in their loss and the loss their families feel, gratitude for their service, and pride, knowing the unselfish act of bravery they each had...but also hope, in the knowledge that approximately 30,000 people were saved that day because of those firefighters. Some people say, "It was their job" but how many people do you know who willingly face danger EVERY DAY to save a life? On a day filled with tragedy, there were lives saved - because of the 343.
It happens every day. Not all calls are of this magnitude but every minute a firefighter is responding and helping someone in need. And that brings me joy.
Each time the pager beeps and my husband responds, without a second thought, I'm reminded of the daily sacrifices of firefighters across this world. I'm prayerful for their safety and for the safety of those they are helping. I'm thankful for their service and proud to be married to one of the best of them.