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DUTY - PRIDE - TRADITION

I have been asked to express some thoughts on “DUTY, PRIDE & TRADITION” for the FOOLS web site.  In doing so, it shall be my intent to instill a strong sense of awareness, stressing the importance and value of firefighters to themselves and families, fire departments and their communities.  THAT WILL BE MY “DUTY.”

 

“DUTY” is defined as, at one’s post or work, a task or chore one is expected to perform.  It is answering the bell and being asked to perform tasks that challenge our physical and mental toughness under extreme conditions.  It is our duty to prepare for these tasks through training, leadership and “Esprit De Corps.”  It is our moral obligation to be doers in the fire service, to prepare for combat and meet the enemy – “BATTLE READY.”  The fire ground is a battleground.  It is the “DUTY” of the firefighter to form a barrier with his/her body against fire.  Quote, “THAT PAIN MAY CEASE, HE YIELDS HIS FLESH TO PAIN.” By Joyce Kilmer, KIA in France in 1918.

 

“PRIDE” is defined as a state of feeling of being proud, a reflection of credit upon oneself.  Pride is feeling good after a job well done!  It is a feeling of goose bumps as you recount your actions; by going somewhere nobody else can go.  By making a rescue and saving a life by being a part of a unit that successfully achieves its goal.  Pride is wiping a tear from your eye and swallowing a lump in your throat, as you are hugged and kissed by a loved one thankful you have returned home safe and sound.  Pride is a glow in your kid’s eyes as they brag about your being a firefighter.  Pride is wearing your uniform, proud of your colors, proud of your coworkers and the fire department.  Being a member of “THE NOBLEST BREED.”

 

“TRADITION” is defined as the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs and information from generation to generation.  A long established or inherited way of thinking or acting.  “Courage in the face of danger is a tradition of the fire service.”  Firefighters of the past stand by us today, passing on their legacy and dedication to us and our fire departments.  Tradition is the maintenance and connection of values with our heroes, pacesetters and examples set by our idols!  It is our foundation.

 

“DUTY – PRIDE – TRADITION” gives an individual the desire to serve – the ability to perform and the courage to act.

 

“DUTY” IS DOING IT.

“PRIDE” IS WEARING IT.

“TRADITION” IS LIVING IT.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts and feelings.

 

“DUTY FIRST”

Edmund J. Enright

Ret. Chicago Fire Department

Just A Fireman?

Many years ago I met a man I hadn’t seen since my brother and I went to high school with him.  After the small talk was finished, he inquired of my profession and seemed pleased that I was a fireman, but when I told him my brother was the vice-president of a large firm, he replied, “Wow, George is a vice president and you’re just a fireman.”

 

That was over thirty-five years ago and although I have been fortunate to be promoted through the ranks to my present position that expression still irritates me because it is an insult to our profession.  Recall for a moment the number of times you heard or even said to yourself, “I am just a fireman.”

 

Permit me to interpret, if you will, what it means to me to be “just a fireman.”

 

Is a person who has dedicated most of his or her adult life to his fellow man or a firefighter who is maimed or disfigured… are they “just a fireman?”

 

Is a man who has sacrificed precious hours away from his family or has to work an extra job to supplement his income “just a fireman?”

 

What about the agony of carrying a dead child in your arms or the grotesque expression of people killed in car crashes, is that “just being a fireman?”

 

Spending cruel hours at conflagrations in sub-zero weather when you know you have no choice but to stay and let the ice build up on your face and fire clothes, does that make you “just a fireman?”

 

Or what about those rotten smoky basement fires when you pray for a breath of fresh air or the other fear of staying under a truss roof not knowing when it will collapse… is that “just being a fireman?”

 

Can anybody (but a fireman) know the tremendous sorrow at the scene of a fire when one of their comrades is carried out in a body bag?

 

I don’t know of any profession, other than the military, that has given so much to his fellow man than the fire service.  When we are called, we respond to the incident with just one thought in mind, and that is to serve our community.

 

In closing, we should always hold our head high and with dignity, proclaiming to all…

 

“YES, I AM ONLY A FIREMAN AND VERY PROUD OF IT!”

 

-- Charles J. Pierce, Chicago Fire Department