Notes from a Rookie Firefighter...May 28, 2012

Today was finally a bright and sunny day in NJ. Morris Township and Morristown had a Memorial Day service at my town hall. I didn't expect to go to the service but for some reason I decided today I was going to go.


The Ceremonial Officer was J. Robert Tracy, 86 years old, who for 63 years spoke to the masses gathered at the Green. I got to chat with him before the service started at town hall and he told me he could only speak briefly since he had throat cancer. He didn't speak at town hall but sat in a place of honor. After the brief service the members of the fire department marched to the Green for the next service. It was hot - luckily people were handing us water bottles as we walked the few miles.


Mr. Tracy needed help to the podium but when he stood there I swear he looked eight feet tall. When he spoke, I never saw his age, or heard the cancer in his voice like I did earlier. He spoke so eloquently of a young woman who never got to meet her dad, hold his hand or go to the park like other young girls did. He told us how this brave young woman retraced the steps her father took up to the place he lost his life. Mr. Tracy was so compelling that I didn't feel the 87 degrees through my Class A. 


The other speakers paled in comparison. I will never forget the lonely sound of taps played by someone from Morristown High School and the tears it brought to my eyes when they raised the flag at 12 noon. It's a day I won't soon forget...hopefully no one at the Green will forget today either.


Back to town hall...while I was chatting with Mr. Tracy he asked me why I was in uniform. I said I was a volunteer firefighter. He said we need more girls like you and God bless you for the service you have given us. Little did I know that just an hour later, I would watch this highly decorated man make what may be the last speech of his life. He passed the baton to a new Ceremonial Officer at the end who will have very big boots to fill.

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Comment by Brian Mackie on May 31, 2012 at 3:57pm
Very nice Denise! Awesome story!

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