My church determined, after 9/11, that we would not take our firefighters for granted again. We weren’t New York. We aren’t even close. But we can thank our firefighters for the work they do without ceasing for our safety.
I wasn’t here for the 2002 memorial, so I don’t know what they did.
For 2003 we had the firefighters in, took pictures, thanked them, applauded them, prayed for them, and gave them some small token of appreciation. We also ate with them on our grounds.
For 2004 we had the firefighters in, thanked them, applauded them, prayed for them, passed their names around in helmets so everyone could grab a card and commit to pray for a firefighter, and gave them a teeny tiny individual token of appreciation and one really cool one. (When we said we had something for them, someone yelled out, “A Harley!”) We had dinner at the firestation. There were fifty of them and two or three hundred of us and it was hot and they were cooking. It took a long time to eat.
For 2005 we had the firefighters in. But before they came, we passed their names out. Those who committed to pray took the name cards and wrote their firefighter a letter. Ours is the one R’s been praying for now for a whole year. It was easy to write his firefighter. I’ve been praying for him too. And I’d already written the first letter, the hard letter, at Christmas. I stuck a Starbucks card in. It was only $5 but that’s enough for a coffee, I think.
They handed out plaques thanking the stations for collecting cans for our friend and member who needs a kidney transplant.
They handed out a list of who would be praying for the firefighters.
They also had small individual bags, though they didn’t say what was in those.
And then they asked who remembered what they’d asked for last year, and the Chief said, “We’re getting Harleys!”
And our preacher laughed and said, “For each fire house we bought a Harley.” He leans under the podium and starts taking out Lego boxes. Did you know there are Lego Harleys? 13,000 pieces. One for each of the four fire houses.
We had their families stand with them and gave them a standing ovation as well.
And we sang to them, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”
We also saw a short, created video, which showed some 9/11 pictures and firefighters, and then showed many non-9/11 firefighting situations. It was very well done. (Thanks, Jennie E.)
And then the preacher had some funny pictures. “We all know firefighters never miss a photo op.” And there’s a picture of some firefighters, in their full regalia, standing in a formal picture pose, in front of a burning house.
“We know they’ll do anything to relax.” And there’s a firefighter in yellow, with a hose in his hand, sitting in a metal chair, spraying the building.
“And they have a sense of humor that sometimes goes beyond the pale.” And there is a picture of a bomb squad member, in a hole, attempting to defuse a bomb. And another firefighter behind him has a paper bag he’s fixing to pop. (R says it was probably a training exercise, which was a good thing. Made me feel better that someone wasn’t risking both their lives over a practical joke.)
We went to lunch, but many fewer, maybe a hundred. And they didn’t cook this time, the food was donated. So dinner was much more pleasant. And shorter. And it was cooler today.
One of the ways we have changed, at least in my church, is that we show our gratitude to those who serve more clearly and more often.