Eternal gratitude

Published 10:44 pm Friday, November 15, 2019

If you don’t already have an overwhelming sense of amazement and gratitude for our local first responders, we have a solution in today’s edition.

The Suffolk Department of Fire & Rescue recently held an awards and recognition ceremony honoring members of the department and a handful of citizens who stepped up when needed. The Nov. 7 ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront was packed to honor these local heroes.

In our Nov. 8 edition, we had a couple of stories about two of the honorees and about the ceremony itself (here and here). But we had to wait a while in order to have enough space in our paper to do proper justice to all of the heroism that was honored during the ceremony.

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The full release is here. It looks like a sea of gray text, but take our word for it — it’s anything but boring. From beginning to end, the release reads like the latest thrilling page-turner, but instead of being fiction, it’s about real heroes doing real heroic acts that have taken place right here in our community during the last year or so.

And while they did these acts simply to protect and serve, the fact they have been honored is the icing on the cake, because it allows all of us who don’t routinely encounter these situations to learn just a bit more about what the men and women who protect us face every day, and our admiration only grows stronger.

You will find stories about firefighters and medics rescuing unconscious occupants from burning buildings, saving children from harm, protecting our elderly and other vulnerable populations, reviving people dying of heart attacks and even a riveting account of a firefighter who sacrificed her own safety for her crew, who then had to pull her out of the rubble of a burning building.

There are also stories of what one might call “everyday” heroism — raising money for research to fight debilitating diseases, ensuring large public events stay safe for all involved and doing the grueling emotional work of supporting colleagues through all of the terrible things they have to see and do.

We don’t mean to make light of the important work of the Department of Fire & Rescue by describing it as one might the latest superhero blockbuster. We truly do believe these men and women are the true superheroes, and we could all benefit from learning more about them.

Our eternal gratitude goes out to all of our local first responders. From the bottom of our hearts — thank you.