My friend, a former longtime firefighter, was in the hospital some months ago. I went to visit him when I found out he was ill, and we chatted. It was good to see him in good spirits.

My friend was a firefighter for more than 30 years, and over that time I knew that when he spoke it was truthful and to the point.

At the time I visited, he had been in the hospital for more than three months and during that span not one member of the fire department member had gone to visit him, call him or bothered to send a card.

I hear firefighters use the terms brothers and sisters all the time, but what do those words mean? When I see this lack of respect and compassion from people I would not expect it from, I just shake my head. I asked my friend if they knew about his condition, and he said they did.

Are firefighters brothers and sisters only when they need sympathy from people who are not part of the firefighting family? Only full-time paid personnel? Only if the person is well-liked. Or maybe, just maybe, the phrase, “We are all brothers and sisters,” is just a bunch of crap.

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that my friend had no brothers or sisters who showed him they cared.

Mark Pantermoller


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