Every day, thousands of first responders answer emergency calls across America. They do it to protect our families and our communities. Many are volunteers who work full time jobs and then respond to emergencies when needed. In major cities, many work two jobs to support their families. These men and women provide our communities with the first response and safety forces that help keep us safe.
Today is 9/11, a day that America changed forever. We saw the bravery of the courageous men and women as they went back in to burning and collapsing buildings to help save our fellow citizens. Many rushed in and many lives were saved but at a tremendous cost to these men and women. Many lost close friends and family members. As the second plane came in, first responders continued going in to try to save people trapped in the buildings. Many still suffer from the effects of 9/11. From post-traumatic stress, to physical injuries, to becoming sick by the dust they inhaled while trying to reach others.
I have a very close friend, Bob Viancourt, who was a Battalion Chief of the Cleveland Fire Department for many years. He used to kid me about the men and women who served with him. He said it took a special person to run into a burning building in the hope of finding a person they didn’t know. To put everything on the line takes a unique person. Bob knew this first hand when a building collapsed on him and his team during a fire. He was lucky, so he said, because his team got out alive. In our times together, I’ve never forgotten his courage and the determination he displayed. He taught me much about what it took to stand by my beliefs when advocating my ideas in Washington after 9/11. I’ve taken some very unpopular positions over the years to help insure the safety of our people. I always felt if Bob was willing to run in the building I would make sure the first responders had the tools and equipment he and his team needed to get back out alive.
These men and women work hard and train hard in hopes they never have to use their extensive training. But every day, some of them will have to. Every day in America there are 1000s of emergencies, it requires courage and strength to go back and find or save the person they don’t know every day. Not only does this stress affect them, it also affects the members of their families and communities. We must reach out to these first responders and help them with their unique challenges.
For police, the challenge has become even more difficult as some groups of our society have started targeting them for harm. As we saw in Boston, and many other situations, these fine men and women are constantly evolving to keep up with changes in our society. They do this to continue serving and protecting their community members and families. How many of us would run toward the explosions?
Take time today to thank these brave men and women when you see them. They help you keep you and your family safe. They work to build bridges between the different communities they serve for very little thanks. You can help change this, not just today on Patriots Day, but on every day of the year. You can help them do their jobs better by become a better citizen and parent. You can help your community grow stronger by helping your police become better informed in your community. This is something you can do to honor them on Patriots day.
As our society continues to evolve and change it is critical that you do not stand by as a passive participant in the future. For our country to remain safe, we must become engaged in our communities, our children’s lives, and our schools. You must become a more active member of our democracy.
As we continue to grow and evolve, we must be willing to help first responders increase their skills and activities. It’s the only way to provide our children with the future they deserve, the way our parents and grandparents did before us. There are still bad people in this world. They win when we don’t stand up to their efforts no matter what the personal cost.
I also share my thoughts on Remembering the Families of 9/11 on yesterday’s Developing Serving Leaders blog.
See you next week when we go back to talking about how to get more qualified referrals for your business. See you then.