A few days ago, a massive crowd gathered in downtown Los Angeles to pay tribute to firefighter Glenn Allen, who died in action. It was an impressive and solemn ceremony well covered by the local media and attended by thousands of fellow firefighters and the city’s leading politicians.
The testimonials on behalf of the 61-year-old firefighter were eloquent and sincere – a fitting salute to a public servant who died responding to the call of duty.
Firefighters deserve our support and gratitude. So do peace officers and members of the military, who are subjected to even greater risks in the service of their fellow citizens.
In 2010, 87 firefighters died in the line of duty in the United States. Almost twice as many (161) peace officers died during the same year, while 1,466 military personnel were killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns.
The sad truth is that we don’t have the resources or even the attention span to give each one of these fallen heroes the kind of tribute given to Glenn Allen.
I’m not saying this one firefighter did not deserve the honor he received. To the contrary, I’m saying we need to be equally appreciative of each and every one of the public servants who died in the service of others.
If we can’t give them all elaborate ceremonies, we can at least show our genuine gratitude to all the firefighters, cops, and soldiers who died in the line of duty by remembering their sacrifice and supporting their surviving comrades.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
* For information and details on all firefighters who died in the line of duty, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website. Similar data for peace officers can be found at The Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Data on military deaths can be found at Military Times’ Honor the Fallen page.