Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My Letter to the Editor from today's Vindy

It seems the bloggers have been writing to the Vindy in great numbers recently. I too wrote in last week and saw that my letter appeared in today's Vindy. It isn't about Youngstown, but about my other passion: Firefighting. Besides being a Youngstownphile, I am an active firefighter/EMT in Virginia.

Firefighters earn flags as protectors of the homeland
Tuesday, July 3, 2007

EDITOR: I was disappointed to read a June 27 letter in The Vindicator expressing a belief that firefighters who die in the line of duty should not be eligible to receive an American flag on their casket. I must wholeheartedly disagree with him.

Day in and day out, America's 1.5 million firefighters respond to emergencies around this country. They are now trained not just to respond to fires and medical emergencies, but incidents relating to hazardous materials, technical rescues and terrorism. They are in fact the protectors of the homeland and hundreds of them have given their lives doing that in the face of a known enemy.

On Dec. 7, 1941, three Honolulu firefighters were killed in the line of duty defending our soil against the Japanese. On Sept. 11, 2001, 343 of New York City's bravest were lost in the War on Terrorism. Do they not deserve a flag?

It is true that firefighters are not trained kill. In fact, it is the exact opposite; Firefighters are trained to save lives. Much like the medic on the battlefield who risks his live to save others, firefighters and EMTs respond to thousands of emergency calls per days around this country willing to risk their lives to save others.

The American flag isn't just a symbol of this country; it is a symbol of honor, loyalty and commitment. Firefighters live by those virtues every time they are asked to respond. They understand the dangerous environments in which they must operate, and understand that at any time they may be called upon to lay down their lives to save another. All firefighters give some, some give all. Those who do have earned the right to have an American flag on their casket.

Arlington, Va.

The writer is a former Youngstown resident and a firefighter with the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department.

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