I went to Catholic school my entire life (which to some, explains a lot), and I'd say I received a good education. I was taught to believe that people are generally good, that we're all more alike than we are different, and that life is a gift.

Life is a tricky gift, though, isn't it? You curse it on your worst days, you hope it never ends on your best, and as you get older, it seems to go by faster and faster, just when you need it to slow down, or pause, for a bit.

When I was younger, I never thought about pausing for anything. I played sports, danced, did gymnastics, sang in the choir, and when I got into high school...well, I won't get into that just in case my mom reads this. One of the few times I can remember actually physically pausing when I was a kid occurred during class. We'd be reading or doing math problems on the board, but no matter how busy we were, one sound would make us all stop what we were doing, creating an odd silence and stillness in the classroom. If you attended Catholic school, you probably know what I'm going to say: the sound I'm talking about is the sound of a siren.

It didn't matter what we were doing, if we heard a siren coming down the street, all of us would look up from our desks. The teacher would lift the chalk she was holding off the black board, turn around and tell us all to pause for a moment. And we did. Sometimes we'd say a prayer, and sometimes we'd just bow our heads and try to think of the person who needed help. The only other time we were ever allowed to pause during class was when our principle (Sr. Esther) walked into the room. And if you didn't pause for her, you were making a serious mistake.

When I was in grade school, I couldn't fathom all the tragedies that occurred out in the big world, but of course, as I grew up, I learned.

In the past week, the fire service has experienced several tragedies. Two firefighters from the Buffalo Fire Department were killed when the floor collapsed while they were performing search operations. Two more firefighters died in a vehicle accident during the Station Fire in California.

I ask everyone to pause for a minute, not only in remembrance of these firefighters, but to remember your family, your crew, your kids, your pet, your favorite plant, whatever it is that's important to you and gives meaning to your life.

Also pause to remember the family, friends and departments affected by these tragedies. I pause to remember FireRescue columnist and friend Peter Kertzie with the Buffalo Fire Department, who lost his two brothers.

Lastly, pause today simply because you don't do it often enough.

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Comment by Joseph P Fahey on September 4, 2009 at 6:56am
Peter, you are not going to put out an intelligent reply because you don't have the mental faculties to do so. JUST KIDDING...
Comment by Perpetual student on September 2, 2009 at 3:38pm
Amen!
Comment by Peter F. Kertzie on September 2, 2009 at 12:56pm
Thank you so much Cindy! I am not going to put any well thought out reply here. I don't want take away from what you wrote.
Comment by Hondo on September 1, 2009 at 2:47pm
Very nicely put. I have been in the fire service for 4 years now. And ever time that the siren blows and the trucks race past the house whether I am on them or not. My 5 year old son races to the nearest window. And as the trucks pass he shouts "Be Safe Boys".

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