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Still Waters: Parade of thanks

Posted: Friday, Jul 5th, 2013

Episcopal Church in Creede

Whatever was intended for Creede’s Fourth of July parade theme, the real focus was firemen. Nearly every parade entry included a “thank you” to those who have been — and are still — fighting fires above Creede and South Fork.

When firefighters walked through the crowd at one point, cheers arose, as if celebrities had come to join Creede’s July 4th celebration. And they were celebrities, much more important than any Hollywood film star who might have made a popular hit on the screen.

These folks have saved properties and recreational spots for locals and tourists. They have fought back wildfires that threatened homes and livelihoods. They have had no holiday for weeks.

And as those trained in beating back the blaze worked in our mountains, 19 of their colleagues died while fighting a wildfire in Arizona. When the Mineral County Search & Rescue group came through the parade with cold water and an appeal for donations for the 19 firefighters’ families, folks along the parade route began pressing dollar bills into their hands without hesitation. Many of those along the parade route knew firsthand what is at stake in a wildfire and what it means to still have their homes standing when the threat is diminished.

Many times a year our own firefighters respond to structure fires in various parts of this immense valley. Some fires are successfully contained, while others destroy a lifetime of memorabilia in minutes. At all of them our volunteer firefighters try their best to save what they can while remaining safe at the same time.

Our volunteers might be called away from supper, a good night’s sleep, a warm bed in winter or a cool office in the heat of summer. Whatever time of day, whatever type of weather, whatever circumstances, they respond.

For that, we can be grateful.

Not only in a Fourth of July parade in a town below a burning mountain, but also on every day when men and women don their gear and head into the smoke, we can thank them for their passion and sacrifice…

… And cheer them as heroes.

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