The following comments are something I put together for Piscataway NJ's Fire Department's annual memorial service a few weeks back. A reflective look at those who have served in fire service and have since passed.
We recognize the contributions and sacrifices of hundreds of firefighters every year from across the country. These firefighters selflessly gave of themselves to their communities with an attitude of service above self. They deserve this recognition for their commitment to the fire service and their communities. I'm sure most of those we honor would ask that everyone reading this take what those dedicated servants of the community worked tirelessly for and contributed to humanity, now pay it forward to the next generation of fire service in your community. They deserve our thoughtful reflection for their personal & collective contributions to society. It is important that we take these times not only to remember the past but also use to past as a foundation for a strong future. The fire service is going through some challenging times. If we embody the hearts and souls of those who have gone before us. If we take their commitment and drive, not only to serve our communities but to make our fire service organizations vibrant and strong for the future, we will continue to thrive. We can respond to the challenges of today by using the examples of the hard work of these men and women who dedicated themselves to the noble cause we know as the fire service. There is no greater recognition in a community that a man or woman can aspire to, then to be a firefighter.
A Prayer that recognizes the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us.
“Dear God, through the intercession of our patron, Saint Florian, have mercy on the souls of our comrades who have made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty, and on all who have gone before us after years of faithful discharge of their responsibilities which now rest on ourselves.”
The following comments from the father of the fire service embody who these men and women were and who we should emulate.
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin
It now rests on us through our oath of commitment to our supreme being to be the bastions of honor & integrity. To be the torchbearers of this noble cause we call firefighting; in the name of all who summon our services when they are being ravaged by destructive forces of fire. May the spirits of St. Florian, Benjamin Franklin and those who have gone before us be summoned to provide us the courage to go where others dare not, to serve those who call us at their darkest hour.
In closing, if we want really memorialize those we honor of years gone by, let’s not dwell on the sacrifices we make today, but the honorable legacies we create through a life committed to service.