Vacations for us are fun, relaxing, and almost always educational. Maybe we’re a family of nerds or maybe we just value the rich history that our country has to offer. No matter what the reason, we spent Spring break visiting Gettysburg, PA. Of course for a firefighter’s family, what Gettysburg trip would be complete without a visit to Emmitsburg, MD?
We took a morning and visited the National Fire Academy to see the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial with names we recognized and the devoted glow of the Eternal Flame. We stood in awe of the great statues of the firemen raising the flag among the rubble of September 11. We saw some of the beauty of the campus that has been home to our fireman on multiple occasions.
Afterwards, we visited the Vigilant Hose Company. My husband had visited this all-volunteer station before and told me about it. When I stepped through the door, I fell in love immediately. The station is immaculate and beautiful. The bay floors are pristinely painted with vibrant colors and clean lines to chase away the dulling spirit of dirty quarters. Bay walls are lined with helmets of various color-coded rank, orderly turnout gear, boots at-the-ready underneath and name plates taking ownership of each set of gear and the department as a whole. Everything shines with a gleam of pride that is visible to all.
As the girls and I stared, open-mouthed, a fireman by the name of Cliff introduced himself, steaming cup of coffee in hand, offered us some, then proceeded to give us a tour of the entire building and answer every question we asked. Was Cliff required to do this? Probably not. Did Cliff enjoy sharing his well-run and lovely firehouse with us? Definitely. With three girls and the two of us, Cliff spent over an hour just making our visit memorable.
No matter what room we entered though, it seemed that there was something being done to prepare for an upcoming Seafood Bonanza. I was very curious about all this prep-work since I knew it was an event put on by the Ladies Auxiliary. It appeared that while it was a Ladies Auxiliary event, the firefighters were very involved as well. When I asked Cliff about their level of involvement, he looked at me with a questioning look. “Of course we help the ladies out. We wouldn’t expect the ladies to support us the way they do and us not support all of their efforts in return.”
With that straightforward comment, Cliff and all the firefighters and Ladies Auxiliary members of the Vigilant Hose Company all shot straight up to the top of my heroes list. What a brilliant statement and one that seems so unquestioningly obvious to the men and women who support each other in this manner. Knowing how much auxiliary groups often times struggle for support from their firefighters, I felt honored to be in a place where spouses are as dedicated and respected as the firefighters.
Before we left, we stopped to buy me a sweatshirt and some t-shirts for the girls. As we stood making our size selections, the tones dropped, sirens sounded around the town, Cliff politely deserted us to protect his community and volunteers of varying ages ran in from every direction to jump onboard and support the community that so obviously honors and supports them.
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