February 5, 2010: The day had arrived! Family and friends had gathered to see “their Recruit” take the oath and pin on the Badge of “FIREFIGHTER!” My classmates looked so young and crisp in the their bright white shirts, sporting – for...

Be problem solvers in the community. You are the pointed end of the spear, you’re where the rubber meets the road. Take your skills, your training, and your truck full of equipment and bring value to the citizen everyday, not just they day they have a fire or a medical emergency.
Make your station a safe haven in the neighborhood. Our stations have been an established part of city streets and neighborhoods for decades and decades. Be open to your “neighbors” – welcome them into the public areas of the stations and help them with whatever question or problem they are wrestling with today. Let them see your station as the neighborhood clearinghouse for help, advice, and safe company.
Be courageous – physically and morally. You’re not afraid to charge in and attack a fire. Use the same courage and bold action to step in to dispel a rumor, resolve differences, correct a wrong, and bring peace and justice in your work areas, your stations, and your neighborhoods. Challenge convention – and push to implement the lessons learned from other departments in the American Fire Service.
Don’t just deliver a service, build a relationship. The relationships you’ll create are what make us “the good guys.” Remember that name on the back of your jackets!
Take ground and lead the transformation. Use the resources and training you’ve been given, your unique perspectives, and your initiative and creativity to solve problems and change the way we deliver our services.
Today you bless this department with your unique talents and skills. Your strength on the streets will help us make strategic operational changes that our department has looked forward to for the last 20 years for. You bring a fresh perspective and a fresh attitude – don’t lose those precious commodities! It took a long time to get you here.....but I am so incredibly happy that you are! Congratulations, class of 2010! Welcome to the Department and to the rank of Firefighter!
After the ceremony I had a chance to visit with my family, and the families of my classmates. I was so happy for the families who had ALSO waited years to have their son or brother or husband “called up” to serve as a Saint Paul firefighter. Well, their long wait was over, and now their sacrifice would begin in earnest. They were happy and proud, and I hope they will always remain that way! 
I left the party at the very end, and my family went out to celebrate Jack’s birthday. Later, Sue and my oldest daughter, Emily, and I slipped out of the house and attended the graduation party at O’Gara’s in Saint Paul. My classmates and instructors all were there, along with many adult family members. It was good to see them all together one last time before we “split up” to the various shifts and assignments at stations around the City. It was good to feel the camaraderie, youth, and strength one more time….those are three of the things I will always feel when I think of this class – three things I will always hold precious when I see them as FIREFIGHTERS on the streets of Saint Paul!
To Andy, Marcus, Larry, Matt B., Matt H., Colin, Kyle, Tyler, Frank, Bernie, Tony, Stefan, Brian L., Brian M., Chuck, Mike, Dane, Joe, Justin, and Adam: your academy experience has ended, but your real journey is just beginning…..I cannot wait to see how far you will go in the upcoming years!!! Thank you for making me part of something special, for being such superb classmates, and for making me feel young and strong again! I wish you the very best of luck in your careers and your future endeavors!