When I was about 21 years old, I had an opportunity to be a Fireman. 

A fireman from just outside of St. Louis said I would be excellent as a firefighter. I was in great shape, very athletic, and the kind of man they were looking for.

I had 3 family members who were firemen in the nice suburbs of St. Louis. One was an uncle, and he was an assistant fire chief, the other 2 were an uncle and a cousin. I could have worked my way up the ladder, plus they had Kelly Days. I heard they would work something like 3-4 days in a roll and then get off 4-5 days. It is ideal for a man to work a PT job or start a small business.     

My problem was I was a young man who was making some decent money in the grocery business. This was back in the mid to late 70s, things were a lot different, we all worked our rears off and had a lot of fun, it was like a family.

I started thinking about 10 years later, man I made mistake!  I would have been making more money and could have retired at a younger age. I’ve been tormenting myself since then and even slapping myself at times!     

About 4 years ago, we had a house fire in a neighboring small town. The firefighters arrived and they couldn’t get to a young boy. It was difficult to hear this and what made it worse was a co-worker’s mother knew the boy. This elderly woman would be on her front porch and would always wave to the boy going to and from school.

I know some first responders, when they have something like this happen it is very difficult. I’ve talked to many first responders and medical people about bad outcomes, and we discuss the support they receive.

Our ex-Fire Chief was a minister, so he was there to talk to his team in difficult situations. What usually happens with our first responders is they all get together and support each other.

I came to realize a few months ago, I wouldn’t have been a good fireman because of my emotions. I tend to worry about things I can’t control and feel deep sorrow for those grieving. I can now go through life without giving myself a quick slap from time to time.

I respect all our first responders to the maximum; they all have a very difficult job with little acknowledgement. We are here to support all our firemen and first responders, I consider myself in your circles, as with all of our first responders and military approach them, have a short conversation and Thank Them!   

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