A fire scene and a parade add poignancy to Sept. 11
Today Fremont County has a frightening reminder that the work of volunteer firefighters is every bit as important and risky as that of the full-time, paid pros who earn their living in firefighting.
Two firemen were injured Thursday afternoon at the site of a rural fire northwest of Riverton. They were carried from the site by ambulance. One was flown to Denver, where there is a good burn center.
Both have been members of the county firefighting community for many years and have responded to hundreds of fire scenes. Most such calls, while important, are more or less routine, where experience and good training, coupled with suitable equipment and teamwork, can handle the situation without undue difficulty.
Sometimes, though, that isn't true. It wasn't on Thursday.
For many of us, the primary exposure to the fire department is waving as the big red fire trucks drive by during parades, or hearing sirens in the distance and wondering where the firefighters are going, or seeing a picture in the newspaper capturing a fraction of a second from a fire scene.
What most of us don't see is the training, the hours, the loyalty, the commitment and, especially, the danger. Firefighters do.
One of the general benefits of living where we do is that we are spared so many of the difficulties of big city living. We can be thankful that we don't have 50-story buildings burning, or big train derailments and their accompanying fires, and that this year, at least, we have been spared our share of the huge wildfires burning elsewhere in our region.
But things still catch fire here. And when they do, our fellow citizens respond. That response was costly to two firemen on Thursday, and we join the community in thanks, appreciation and fervent hope for recovery.
Flags, sirens, motorcycles, work trucks and official vehicles were seen and heard Friday morning on the streets of Riverton in memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001.
The 14-year time gap between now and then closes instantly in our memories each time this date arrives on the calendar. The events are every bit as stunning, frightening and incomprehensible as they were on that late summer day near the turn of the new century.
It is an unfortunate but very real fact of human life that disastrous times often unite us in ways that joyous times cannot. Friday morning, as sirens moaned and flags snapped in the breeze, that unity was reinforced.