Make history: Your actions, every day, write the fire service story

Remember, 20 years from now, future firefighters will want to know what 2020 was like


What is history?

Is it that boring class that you were required to take in high school? That continuous lecture that dealt with battles and wars and men who discovered new continents? That may be the case to some, but I challenge that definition.

To me, history is what we do, or say or think every day. That may sound a bit farfetched or overly inclusive, but think about it for a moment. How many times have you sat around the table at the fire station and listed to the “old-timer” tell the story of the five-alarm block-burner from year’s past? Maybe it made the local daily paper. Maybe it even made the national news. Regardless, when you really contemplate it, history is really determined by the people asking the questions and telling the stories.

Twenty years from now, someone is going to ask you what it was like in 2020. They won’t want to hear you rattle off national statistics. They will want to know what you did. How did you feel? Were you afraid? What did you think?
Twenty years from now, someone is going to ask you what it was like in 2020. They won’t want to hear you rattle off national statistics. They will want to know what you did. How did you feel? Were you afraid? What did you think? (Photo/SFFD)

How will we explain 2020?

Think back 19 years ago, when our nation went through one of the darkest days of our time: 9/11.

Today, about 75 million people in the United States weren’t alive when that event occurred. When anyone in that age group asks me about September 11, interestingly, they aren’t inquiring about what happened in New York or Washington; they can search that information on the internet. They want to know what it was like in my little town of 2,500 residents. They want to know how it impacted everyone, including me.

Twenty years from now, someone is going to ask you what it was like in 2020. They won’t want to hear you rattle off national statistics. They will want to know what you did. How did you feel? Were you afraid? What did you think?

Whether you realize it or not, you help write history every day. Your actions, your thoughts, your efforts are all part of what is and has been happening this year – and it certainly hasn’t been an easy year. From a global pandemic to destructive wildland fires and taxing civil unrest, we have had to deal with just about everything Father Time could throw at us. And guess what? We made it.

No, it hasn’t been easy, but as this year draws to a close, take a few minutes to reflect on everything we have been through. Take some time to remember those awkward first Zoom calls or trying to make hand sanitizer at home. Remember the big calls this year. Take a few minutes to remember those who are no longer with us. Find a minute to call someone who you haven’t talked with in a while. They may need that call just as much as you do. Whatever you do, don’t give up now because 20 years from now, someone needs to hear your story of what happened in 2020.

A parting thought

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

Those aren’t my words. They were spoken by former Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1977.

As first responders, we are constantly called upon to take that moral test, and history will document that in 2020, we excelled, even in the face of extreme adversity.

Thank you for your service and for your commitment. Have a safe, healthy and happy 2021.

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