July 19, 2013

respect, sorrow, and gratitude for nineteen heroes

So, while I would like to just live in my own little peaceful bubble this summer, life just doesn't always work out that way. But before I go any further in this story that I feel compelled to tell, I just want to tell you that for my next post, I'm planning to quickly share a few photos from our first visit to Sedona back in May (when I fell behind on my blog). It was a place I had long wanted to see, and we definitely plan to go back!

Just after the Doce Fire got under control and our area felt safe again, the Yarnell Hill Fire broke out (southwest of Prescott). As we oohed and ahhed at the lightning out our front windows, we noticed the wind shifting several times. It was so very sad to learn later that evening that nineteen firefighters from Prescott (the Granite Mountain Hotshots) had perished during that very time.

The loss hit Prescott very hard. So many people knew them, or knew somebody who did, or (including us) were just plain thankful for them after their hard work on the Doce Fire. Vehicles had been driving around town with "thank yous" written on their back windows to the firefighters. They were heroes here.

The following week was Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo (running all week), Fourth of July, and the Frontier Days Parade. The whole week's activities became opportunities to honor what are being called The Fallen 19 (AKA The Prescott 19 and The Yarnell 19).

It was also a week of many firsts for us in our new hometown. Wednesday we attended a performance of the Rodeo. Thursday we watched Prescott's city fireworks display. Best fireworks I have ever seen! They really know how to do it.

one of many equestrian entries in the Prescott Frontier Days Parade

Saturday July 6 was the Prescott Frontier Days Parade. It turned out to be a 2.5 hour parade, by far the longest I've ever watched in person! It had a wonderfully genuine, "down home", old west flavor, and I was thrilled to see so many horses! It had also turned into a huge tribute to the fallen firefighters. More entries than not honored them with signs, flags, purple ribbons, and so on, and drew repeated applause from the spectators. By far the most touching entry featured nineteen riderless horses, each with firefighter boots in the stirrups and a sign with the name of one of The Fallen 19. The respect, sorrow, and gratitude for these heroes was palpable.

The fence of the Hot Shot crew's station (three sides of the property) is covered. We recently drove by again. Finally there was not a crowd, so we parked and walked the whole fence while thunder rumbled overhead. The sun and thunderstorm rains are taking their toll on some items, and there is talk of the city creating a permanent home for the contents of this "impromptu memorial". But even though the flowers are faded and some signs are lying on the ground, you can feel so much emotion, it is humbling.

part of the fence at the station of The Fallen 19

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