Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 17, 2013

Thank our civil servants every chance you get

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

Athens — Recently, the news has been plentiful with items about catastrophes. For instance, there was the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion. 

There were also the district attorney’s office killings in Kaufman County and the explosion at the Boston Marathon. And, the list goes on.

Actually, recent events are really no different than any other day.  There are always catastrophic events that we do not hear about.  The reason is that different levels of news media will print or air those events in which the most people are involved or the people in the highest positions are involved.

And in journalism school, you are taught that the more deaths involved, the more readership there is inherent in a news story.  They believe that you could put the garden club at the top of the front page in huge headline type, and then put a story on the bottom of the page with the headline reading that 10 people were killed in an event (in very small headline type) and the attraction would be to the bottom story.

But, whether it is a  national story or one that didn’t even make the press, yet did show up on the police blotter, there are those who risk everything for the betterment of society.

The groups I am referring to are the firefighters and the law enforcement personnel of any community.

Even if a police officer has gone into a strange house with no one in it, searching for a possible suspect, they didn’t know that there wasn’t someone in it who was armed and ready to use their weapons.

If a firefighter combats a blaze, they never really know for sure if there is an explosive device or chemicals involved which are destined to explode. Nor do they know if people are in a blaze and need their help.

Such was the case recently in Houston, when four firefighters were killed fighting a fire at a motel on the southwest side of town. I told me wife that the young woman who died was born just 13 days before our wedding 25 years ago. It really strikes a cord about how young she was to be so brave.

I remember my father, who spent almost 30 years as a firefighter, before he retired at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. He was employed as a federal employee at various U.S. Air Force bases, with the longest run being at James Connally Air Force Base near Waco.

It was then that I was a student at LaVega Independent School District in Bellmead. I played football games for four years there, and I believe my father maybe attended three games the entire time.

It was just a matter of his career of helping other people in emergency situations taking over a large part of his life, and in essence, a large part of his family’s life.

That’s the way it is with firefighters and law enforcement and some other careers. When you are needed, it’s not just the flip of a coin. You are truly needed.

And in some occupations, the family must be as independent as possible.

I so appreciate the things that society’s helpers sacrifice to protect our lives.

I know it’s not National Police Appreciation Week or National Firefighters Appreciation Week, but I do believe we should do that every week — every day!

It doesn’t matter what holiday or occasion exists.  Thank our law enforcement and firefighters as often as you possibly can. 

If you were to need one of them within the next five minutes, you would understand their importance, if you don’t already.

They are there to help us, and to keep us safe.

Thanks to all those who risk their lives for a better society.

Jeff Riggs is associate editor of the Athens Daily Review.