Go to the Funeral…You OWE it to Them

Recently, Backstep Firefighter offered a post by a similar title. The blog posting offered two articles well written about going to funerals to pay respects. One was based on the fire service, the other was not. They both offer great insight as to why you should go to the funeral.

I had been thinking about writing a post similar and then I attended another funeral last week. I thought it was poorly attended and I just can’t wrap my head around it.

In addition, this is timely due to the recent LODD’s in Indiana and Illinois.

Here are my thoughts…

I have attended funerals for firefighters ever since I joined my department. There I was, a snotty nosed, young punk, know-it-all firefighter in a brand new department…going to funerals for guys who had retired before I joined the department. Some of them had retired before I was even born. I was there, without any prodding. It isn’t about me, it is about paying respects.

photo by Drew Abel

I am not sure now what made me go, but I went. I often assisted with the Honor Guard at the funerals. Some were attended by a couple of other firefighters, others well attended. Some had hundreds at their funeral, others had a couple dozen. I didn’t know the men and it didn’t matter. I was there to pay my respects… and to support the family at the very least.

We have lost some great men in my 12 years in  my department… GREAT MEN! We have lost all kinds of men. Great firefighters, great husbands, great fathers, great sons, great brothers, great friends…some of them were taken too early.

I have never based my desicion on going to a funeral on who they were or who they weren’t. It isn’t about that.

Most recently, I attended the funeral of a Paramedic/Firefighter whom I knew and had the pleasure of working around. As always, our Honor Guard was there. They do a great job…I mean top notch. These guys know the meaning of precise. I would tell you who wasn’t there, but the list is too long….and I understand that not everyone can attend every funeral. Coverage of that funeral here , here and here.

I don’t keep score, I never have. It’s just too easy to realize that too many of my brother and sister firefighters were not there. The article on Backstep Firefighter points to BROTHERHOOD…I couldn’t agree more that this is what is lacking. Another great read is a recent article on Raising Ladders about The Lost Art of Firemanship.

But I hate throwing around the word BROTHERHOOD. If I throw it around too much I think it takes away from the meaning of  BROTHERHOOD.

To me BROTHERHOOD is not something that can be taught, learned, or explained. It is too simple to understand and too complicated to explain. BROTHERHOOD must be experienced.

If you want to start to experience BROTHERHOOD…Go To the Funeral

They deserve it, their families deserve it, and you OWE it to them. That is right, I said you OWE it to them. Whether you liked them or not, they were your BROTHER or SISTER firefighter and you OWE it to them and their family.