Jason Stein, 1-31-14: Say thank you to all the firefighters

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How many things in our lives do we take for granted?

It doesn't take long, if you do take the time to stop and think about it, to realize just how lucky most of us are and how well most of us have it.

A roof over our head, food on the table, family, friends, etc... there are so many different things that we should be thankful for.

And yet it took a recent tragedy, one that has gained national attention even, to make many of us remember a group of individuals that we take for granted every day. Firefighters.

In many cases being a firefighter or any first responder is a thankless job until needed.

Think for a moment what they go through. They're often the first one to an accident, meaning they've seen their share of gruesome scenes, severely injured people, mangled up vehicles and unfortunately, even lifeless bodies -- and that's putting it mildly.

We know they're there. We know they are a phone call away. But do we really appreciate them for what they're willing to do?

Only a few days ago two Toledo firefighters lost their lives doing a job they're trained for, but no one can really train to die on the job. And boy how quickly it hit home for so many.

Imagine for one second being married to someone who has a job like this. They leave for their shift and they, let alone their family, have no idea what is going to happen that night. And I'd be willing to bet that after the recent tragedy, there was even an extra kiss or a longer hug because now, due to recent events, an unfortunate thought is there in the back of their heads.

Thursday night in Toledo a "Last Alarm Service" honoring two fallen firefighters -- Privates James Dickman and Stephen Machcinksi -- was held at the Seagate Centre. Firefighters and other emergency personnel from beyond Toledo, including several from Defiance, were in attendance to honor their fallen brothers.

I can't imagine what it is like for everyone, from the victims families, to the firefighters who worked every day with these brave men, to firefighters and their families that didn't even know them but know what they did for a living.

Take a moment and think about not just what our firemen have agreed to put on the line but what their families go through every time they head to work.

Sure, we just assume that everything will be fine and they'll come back, just as they've done on many calls before, but the Dickman and Machcisnki families probably thought that too.

Thursday's service was moving. To see firefighters from across the United States and even parts of Canada come to honor the fallen and to hear the reasons:

-- "To be there for our brothers and their family"

-- "Because they'd do it for me"

-- "We don't know each other but we're all brothers"

Hearing bagpipes playing Amazing Grace brought tears to many as did stories recounting these heroes' lives. But it also shows that while many of us take what they do for granted and we just assume they'll be there when we need them most, they have families and they're not immortal.

We can not bring back the fallen, but we can certainly make sure we appreciate those we still have. Let's not wait for another Last Alarm Service to make us take the time to truly appreciate what these men and women are willing to lay on the line every day.

To all those who serve our communities, thank you! You may not get the press, you may not always be painted in the greatest of pictures, but thanks to you and your families for all that you have done and will continue to do!

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