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December 2014 Heroes of the Month: Our First Responders

The last few weeks have been particularly difficult for our country between the events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City resulting from the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Hopefully, from these events will come a helpful national dialogue to improve on neighborhood policing practices as well as a candid discussion of how to stop the bigger tragedy of black on black violence that is reaching epidemic proportions in our inner cities. One thing is for certain: law abiding people in minority communities everywhere want an effective working relationship with law enforcement to deter and stop crime in their neighborhoods and will continue to rely upon local firefighters and EMTs to help save lives.

This month, at such a significant time, it seems appropriate to recognize the heroism and contributions of the thousands of dedicated men and women who risk their lives every day to protect our families, our neighborhoods and our cities: our first responders in the fire, police and medical professions as well as the thousands of volunteer firefighters in rural America. Every year hundreds die or are permanently disabled in the line of duty.

By way of background, in 1957 the National Association of Fire Chiefs called for the establishment of a single nationwide communications system to deal with life threatening emergencies. With the cooperation of AT&T and local telephone companies across America, those efforts led in 1968 to the dedication of “911” for that purpose. The first ceremonial 911 call was made on February 16, 1968. By 1999, 93% of the United States population was covered in the 911 network.

On September 11th, over 350 first responders died at the World Trade Center, but hundreds more have either become disabled or died since then from the inhalation of toxic materials that day and in the weeks that followed.

In February 2010, a movement began in Congress to set aside a national day of recognition for our first responders. These efforts are ongoing.

Dave Carroll, a gifted Canadian singer and song writer has written a song and produced a video to honor first responders. It appears below for your viewing. I think you will agree it honors them and reminds us of how grateful we should be for their sacrifice. Dave calls them: “Everyday heroes.” Indeed, they perform countless heroic acts every day across America and Canada, often without recognition, except by those directly benefitting from their help.

Dave’s personal story is worth mentioning. He and his brother Don have spent most of their adult lives working as musicians, living in Ontario and Nova Scotia, Canada. Both have served as volunteer firefighters in Nova Scotia, where portions of the video were filmed (notice the shoulder patches, engine company insignias, etc.). In 2008, Don became a full time firefighter and Dave went on to perform as a solo artist. His albums are available on Amazon.

Special thanks to Dave Carroll for a beautiful and powerful homage to our first responders.

In these difficult times, let us not forget how blessed we are to have these “everyday heroes” serving us in our communities. And let’s hope Congress will soon establish a National First Responder Appreciation Day because we all need to honor them and express our gratitude.

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