OUR VIEW: Fires bring out heroesWe are careful to label someone a hero. We feel the word is overused and misappropriated, and therefore eroding.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
We are careful to label someone a hero. We feel the word is overused and misappropriated, and therefore eroding. Who is a hero? A man who rushes into a burning home to save a child. Someone who saves a person in the throes of a heart attack. Someone who leaps into a river to save a child from drowning. Veterans. Now those people are heroes. What about the firefighters from some of our volunteer departments who have opted to leave their jobs and families and head to Nebraska to battle that state’s raging wildfires? Yes, we think they are heroes.
The Daily Republic this week has published stories about firefighters from south-central South Dakota communities like Burke, Gregory and Dallas who have traveled to the Niobrara valley to fight the Fairfield Creek, Hall and Wentworth fires. The blazes have consumed more than 72,000 acres, and some of the volunteers are working 12- to 24-hour shifts, without pay. Temperatures this week have been in the 100-degree range.
Imagine fighting a fire on a 100-degree day, wearing all of the heavy clothing and accoutrements associated with being a firefighter. Imagine being away from family, and in many cases, in harm’s way. And imagine doing it without pay and perhaps without much recognition. Too, we similarly should recognize those firemen who are paid, but who have decided to leave their hearths and homes to battle flames in South Dakota’s Black Hills.
We very much appreciate all kinds of heroes, even those we feel are sometimes inappropriately labeled. But we have a special place in our heart this week for those who have volunteered in the face of great risk, great peril and hard work to battle fires in miserable conditions, away from home and away from their normal lives.
Thank Heaven for firefighters, volunteer and otherwise, who opt to put their lives on the line so the rest of us can live free of danger.