Today I was reminded that the most emotionally complex sound is that of a bagpipe at a firefighter’s funeral. Even the most hardened veteran will feel the swelling of tears. In the midst of such an occasion it is preferable to focus on the positives. The fun memories of that person, the good calls you went on, or the fact that so many different departments are there to pay tribute to the choices someone made for their life. At the funeral today the preacher spoke of sacrifice. This may not have been a directly related line of duty death but still the concept of sacrifice fit. Getting up every duty day and putting on the uniform, spending time away from family in order to be there for strangers, giving up weekends and holidays so that others can be safe. The list is endless when you consider the sacrifices anyone in our career field makes on any given day however, I never considered that service and sacrifice were identical.
By choosing service over self, that is the embodiment of sacrifice. For any sacrifice to be beneficial, there should be something gained or something learned from it and this case was not lacking in either aspect. Witnessing this man’s dedication, determination, and work ethic made it easy for anyone to appreciate the qualities that were demonstrated. Seeing future generations of firefighters that have gained insight to their careers through his knowledge and are now able to project that knowledge to others made this sacrifice and service beneficial.
The portion of the service that rang home for me was how this man’s service had impacted so many around him. His sons, those that he trained, and even those that he spent time with were all able to identify and pick up something positive from his life. This made me wonder what people would say at my funeral. Would I be a passing glimmer that was forgotten as soon as I left, or a bright shining star that made a positive impact on those around me that lasts forever? With that thought in mind, I challenge everyone to step up and be that shining example. It is easy to forget through our day-to-day struggles how short life can be and focus on the little things that make life miserable. If people went to work with the brotherhood/sisterhood mentality that was present today, there would be more hugs and support rather than negativity and bickering that is normally present. We don’t need the sound of bagpipes to make us better people willing to sacrifice ourselves in order to make the world a better place.
In memory of Chief Hill: Thank You for your service and sacrifice!