Let me start by saying that my son-in-law made it to a Bob Dylan concert back in September. We discussed the man's music and the lyrics of a number of his songs. I spoke of one of my favorite lines from his work which tells us that, "… the times they are a changing." My friends this little snippet of musical history will always remain right and relevant. Given the way that people are attacking my beloved fire service, I worry about where we will be in a few years.
But that does not mean that I will give up the battle for the future of our service. So with that in mind and with apologies to famed country singer Willie Nelson, let me announce to you the fact that, come June of 2013, I will be on the road again. Yes, once again it is time to announce another Harry Carter Road Trip. This will replace the trip which I had to cancel because of the serious illness of my friend and traveling companion, Jack Peltier of Marlborough, MA.
He is well and it is our intention to hit the road on or about June 1, 2013. June is normally my quiet month between band seasons. However, it is my desire to be back in time for the outdoor summer band season with the famed Ocean Grove Summer Band, in Ocean Grove, NJ, which guides the timing of this trip.
My mission will be similar to the theme of my highly successful 2006 Road Trip. As before, I want to meet the real members of the American Fire Service and speak with them about their concerns, problems, solutions, and successes; as well as their failures. However, things will be a bit different in 2013.
This time around, my sidekick Jack Peltier and I will be joined by a long-time buddy from the great state of Delaware. We are going to be joined by Ken McMahon, a former chairman of the Delaware State Fire Commission and a long-time friend. It is our intention to meet with members of the American Fire Service who can share a story of success based upon a grant received from the FIRE Act program. Ken is a chief emeritus and life member of the Christiana, DE, Fire Department.
Let me assure you that Jack and I learned a great many lessons from the manner in which we conducted our last soiree. We will be doing things a bit differently this time. Thanks to the fact that the rental car industry in America hates cigar smokers, Jack, Ken, and I will be driving from the east coast out to our nation's midsection. I already have a couple of tentative visits lined up at county and state events in Illinois and South Dakota. Given the greater distances between cities and towns out in the Midwest, we intend to set up fewer stops, but we want to meet more people at each location.
As I review the map, it looks like we would like to visit the following states.
- Springfield, IL and west
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
There a few folks in my regrets file from the 2006 trip and the planned 2010 trip that did not happen which I would like to hear from. There were also invitations to fire conventions in Montana and South Dakota. If you recall making these invitations in 2006 and 2010, please let me know if the welcome mat is still out. I have also made a connection with the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts for their 2013 conference in Springfield. I am due to speak there on June 21, 2013.
My many friends in the fire apparatus and equipment manufacturing world are once again stepping up to the plate to take a crack at helping us meet the costs of this journey. We will raise the necessary funds to make this trip happen. However, why am I doing this, you might ask? Why are Ken, and Jack, and me taking a month out of our collective lives to travel and meet with you?