It is my belief that kids today don’t know what a hero truly is or what that means. In my opinion, kids think a hero has to be some individual with these traits like flying, seeing through walls, etc. These so called heroes have come alive on the Hollywood screen from written comic books in prior years and has deflated the idea of using one’s imagination. It has also caused society to forget about the real heroes such as parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, and certain public officials. I assure you there is a huge shortage of true heroes in this world.
Fortunately for me I have never experienced a shortage of heroes in my life: from coaches, to teachers, my grandparents, a sister who was a police officer for some time, my mother, and my father.
Although I could write a substantial amount about each person mentioned, I want to take time to write about my father who recently retired after putting in 40 years as a firefighter. Now, I have been teaching for ten years and can’t imagine doing it for 30 more years. At the rate the education system is going, I may be doing it longer. Anyways, I want to take time to write about my father and his dedication to his job and his work ethic. Both qualities I inherited and have taken with me through high school, college, and my career.
Some of the earliest memories of my father as a firefighter are when he would come into my elementary school during fire prevention week and we would have fire drills and receive coloring books, plastic helmets, and sticker badges. I was always quick to say my dad is right there or my dad is one of the fireman who came in today. As an elementary student, I was never more proud to know my father was a fireman and what that meant to the community. I can also recall the numerous fire truck rides around town during this time as well.
Another memory is the countless Saturdays I spent with my father going down to the fire station with my dad to enjoy hot chocolate and doughnuts. Whether they were from White’s bakery or from Goff’s, to a kid, doughnuts were awesome. Heck I still love doughnuts! Of course my father always made sure I helped wash the fire trucks before I feasted on the long johns or glazed paradise that sat in the meeting room.
Other memories include the countless Christmas parties my father and mother took us to that were sponsored by the fire department. I can still remember the good food and seeing Santa come through the door and being excited about getting a present to play with. I can also never forget the numerous fire runs my dad had where I had to go with him to the fire hall because I was with my dad in either in his ginormous red station wagon, or his small, gray, gmc pick-up truck.
With all of these memories, which I know I can talk about many more, including going to the theater downtown and getting candy and watching a movie or serving hot dogs during the mint festival. All of these memories have something in common. My father took pride in who he was and what he represented from the time he was a firefighter all the way to when he served as chief for the last 2 years of his career as a public servant. He took pride in his work and he set an example for everyone around him to follow and set an even greater example for his children to follow. He wanted people to take pride in their own work. My father loved being a part of fire and fire science. He loved it so much he took time to teach others about the aspects of firefighting and spent countless hours in school getting specialized training.
To me that kind of deduction is being a real hero. My father wasn’t part of a huge fire department and I can only recall one instance where I was really scared about my dad getting hurt as a firefighter and that was the Clinton Home Center fire around my birthday when I was young where we could see flames from our house. Regardless, my father was still willing to sacrifice for others. Again, a true characteristic of a hero.
My father or my mother never pushed us any one direction in our lives. My father and mother did instill work ethic, dedication, perseverance, and courage. The courage to take a chance and stand up for what we believe in regardless of whether they liked it or not. With my father serving 40 years on the fire department, it is no secret he loved his job. I truly understand what he felt this past week when reality hit and he was done being chief. When I was done coaching back in April it was hard to fathom. I know my dad deserves retirement and who doesn’t after 40 years, but I know there is an emptiness that will still be with him for some time, just like with basketball for me.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is a shortage of true heroes in this day and age and too many times kids are looking to professional athletes, music artists, or senseless Hollywood actors who don’t set good examples. Kids need to look closer to home at the people around them.
Parents, however, don’t need to be some super human to be a hero to their children. My brother-in-law is a police officer and a “stinkin” mailman as my niece once said. I see how my sister and her husband parent their children and my nieces adore their mother and father and I bet if I asked who their hero was, they would say their father or mother. Parents don’t need to be their children’s best friends. They need to set the example like my father did, yes and my mother too. If parents do their job and be parents, who knows their children may see them as a hero.
I wish my father the best not being a fireman. I love him dearly and I am glad I had such a good role model growing up. I am also glad he took pride in his job. It takes a hero to be dedicated for 40 years. Your service won’t be forgotten and I know you have touched many lives. Thanks for helping create all of he wonderful memories that I have and thank you for instilling in me the pride, work ethic, and dedication it takes to be successful in this world. I love you dad.