Not only am I wordy… but I am a big talker. Sometimes to my own detriment.
On the three hour drive up to the Wisconsin State Fallen Heros Memorial with Trina and my FF, we were discussing the MFD memorial. I mentioned that I thought the guy who read my grandpa’s name may have rushed it a bit. That I had video’d it and watched it back… seemed rushed. Trina told me that maybe I should hold judgement till after my turn reading names… fair enough. We will come back to that.
The state memorial was just as beautiful as MFD’s. The memorial was set on the Wisconsin River and was a beautiful fall day. We were greeted and remembered by many that were at the earlier memorial. Hugs were shared with people that didn’t know my name before Wednesday.
At this memorial, I was actually seated alongside the podium with the other presenters. I wasn’t aware of this… and this is when my nerves of steel weakened. I did have a moment of levity when I was walking in behind the honor guard and an acorn dropped down the front of my dress. Thankfully, I was still relatively hidden, so no one saw me dig it out.
Seated between two men dressed in Class A’s, I sat quietly. Awaiting my turn and trying not to notice that there were spiders crawling on the guy next to me. Tears came easily at the bag pipes and Amazing Grace…. its a beautiful song, but I would be okay never hearing it again.
Finally, it was my turn… I stood and waited to approach the podium. I made it through the first several names clearly and easily. Then, I saw his name and my voice caught in my throat. As I read Grandpa’s name, I had to stop and compose myself… I literally ate the words I spoke about the cub rushing the names. I didn’t rush mine, I cried instead. I gathered myself and I believe I finished strong… though, in all honesty, all I could hear was buzzing in my ears. It was probably the spiders making their way from my friend.
The closing 3-3-3 sounding of the bells always humbles me and takes me to my proverbial knees. I dont pray, but if I had one prayer it would be that those bells would never be sounded again… that we would suffer no more loss in the fire service.
As I stood among the honor guard after the ceremony getting our picture taken, I was humbled. I had just honored over 200 names and I got to honor a piece of my history and family. It was an incredible experience.
May the only person I ever honor on a memorial be my Grandfather. May I never stand there reading my FF’s name or that of one of my sisters in fire… but I learned one thing this past week, if I must, I have the strength to do so and an entire fire family that will stand beside me and lend me theirs when mine wanes.