Monday, August 24
Someone called out that they heard screaming, so Firefighter "Chip" McCarthy ran into a burning building to search for someone in trouble. When his oxygen tank was used up, he came out, got a new one and went back in.
The floor beneath him burned away, throwing him to the basement. He radioed that he was down. Jonathan Croom ran in to save him.
We toss around the "hero" word so casually these days. But this is what a hero does. He runs into danger for the sake of others when every instinct he has is telling him to run far away.
Chip and Jonathan ran in. And a few hours later, their fellow firefighters brought them out on gurneys, an American flag over each body, a line of men and women in uniform saluting their passage.
In a few days there will be a funeral with representatives from all over the East and Canada. We've seen this before. The ceremony, the coming together, the praise and gratitude. The sheer numbers will be awe-inspiring, the long processions, the fire trucks.
But the real tribute was this morning. when firefighters converged on the scene, hundreds of them, to escort and protect the men they lost. To bring them out with honor, hands raised in salute, some still covered in soot from fighting the fire that claimed their comrades. A human chain of respect and grief.
The men each ran into the building alone, but they came out in the arms of their brothers.
Rest in peace, our heroes.