Farewell, and Thankyou....

Nurses General Nursing


In December of 1999, 6 firefighters from Worcester perished in a fire at a deserted warehouse...This was a significant loss for their families and the surrounding communities. It prompted me to write this tribute...Never thinking in a million years that the same tribute would so apply to the aftermath of 9/11, and speak to the way in which we all came to see firefighters and emergency personell and their familes everywhere...I sent this piece to fire departments in Worcester and New York, and received comments from Worcester, which I treasure to this day...Again, I hope you don't mind allowing me to share these pieces with all of you....And, if you like the tribute, please feel free to share it with any firefighters and or families of these very special people....With my thanks and admiration for a job well done....

Hence, the title...

Farewell and Thankyou.....


An even number...

Equal, concise and cohesive.

Not unlike our fallen Worcester firefighters and so many others from past, present and sadly, future....

Chosen; a six letter word describing six special people united in life by friendship and commitment to each other, families, friends and community; united in death by a tragic event seemingly larger than life...

I never knew them, yet those six heroic men have posthumously reached out to caress my heart and those of countless others moved to tears by their untimely passing.

Strangers to most of us not so long ago, their service and supreme sacrifice will forever be poignantly etched in our minds. Entrusting our lives to firefighters is something not routinely considered until chaos ensues and it's OUR loved ones or ourselves whose safty is compromised. Perhaps that fact fuels our sense of sadness and compassion.

After all, it might have happened to anyone. It could have been US they were searching for. There but for the grace of God go I...

Sometimes the simplicity of a statement masks the magnitude of its' meaning.

To those brave men and women continuing to serve amidst what must seem to be insurmountable despair and mountainous grief, I believe I can speak for everyone when I tell you we revere your commitment to servce, and respect the dignity and self sacrifice each time out entails, understanding that the passion that fuels you to preserve lives at the potential cost of your own, is the very quality enabling us to feel secure in the comfort that you would search for us as long and as deeply as possible, until hope was exhausted but never quite lost.

A firefighter NEVER gives up or gives in. Not by choice....

Thus, in Worcester and around the world, we honor and remember the important and amazing gift extended by you and your bretheran.

Each time you fought a fire or saved a life, God smiled upon you.

Each time you extended yourselves at the expense of others, in some way, you fought for the rest of us too. No longer of the physical realm, you will never be far from home.

We will not ever forget...

Each of those men was someone's son, dad, brother, husband or friend.

To a man their lives, though arguably imperfect, were pregnant with hopes, dreams and even flaws. Probably they would be quick to mention this, perhaps even embarrassed by lengthy words of praise.

Just like us...

Those they left behind are the truest heroes, having early on recognized and loved that deeply ingrained and uniquely admirable quality that drives firefighters to protect and serve.

Such is the strength of faith...

It takes faith in God and unquestioning acceptance of the fragility of life to hug a firefighter and send him or her into the face of danger time and time again, not EVER certain of their return.

Life is a gift, not a promise. No one is guaranteed a homecoming, but most of us would admit to taking it for granted.

These men and women have chosen or been chosen to follow a path which, though rarely clearly marked, is most undoubtedly a magnificently special and challenging trail that only a select few can ever hope to traverse.

It's one they raze with pride and honor, so the rest can follow...

We salute you for clearing the way for us and each other.

Angels; another six letter word for six men, no longer of this Earth, who continue to look down upon family, friends and everyone, protecting those who cannot protect themselves, as their destinies demand..

If there is any comfort to be given to their families, know this; you will forever reside in our hearts.

We would refer to these men as heroes thought they would likely reply, "We were just doing our jobs."

How can we truly thank you?

How can you know how extremely important you are?

When I gaze upwards towards the crisp night sky sprinkled with diamond stars, I see a trillion points of light; remnants of smiles and love directed downward toward family, friends and everyone you cared for...All those you rescued, the people left behind...

My smile back is brimmed with pride, gratitude and the knowledge that somewhere up there, you are caretakers still...

For those now gone and to those men and women who continue to serve with unrelenting courage and grace, we thank you....

And, to my grampa ( now in heaven with firefighters finest), and father-in-law; two firefighters whom I dearly love, I will forever be proud and happy to have been a part of your lives, simply by chance, much as the timing of the Worcester fire, and life at both it's best AND worst....

There is never goodbye, only until we meet again...

Farewell, and thankyou...

Written by: Martha J. Crowninshield O'Brien

December 1999

Dedicated specifically to the six Worcester Firefighters,

and especially to firefighters everywhere and, with special remembrance to the firefighters and police officers who perished

September 11, 2001 .......Thankyou......

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,494 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

Thanks for sharing. We take those who protect our lives so much for granted (kind of like people taking nurses for granted too), and it's always good to be reminded.

mother/babyRN, RN

11 Articles; 1,587 Posts

Specializes in cardiac, diabetes, OB/GYN.

I guess I should share my nurse pieces too...Would be apropo...Didn't mean to save the best for last..... ;)

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,494 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.
Originally posted by mother/babyRN

I guess I should share my nurse pieces too...Would be apropo...Didn't mean to save the best for last..... ;)

Yes you should. You obviously have a big heart full of compassion, you're writing is eloquent and sincere.


273 Posts

this was lovely.

several weeks ago i got called to pronounce death on the oldest firefighter in our state. he died peacefully with his grandson beside him. several weeks before he was dancing at his grand-daughters wedding. (a good old irish blessing...'may you live to see your childrens' children..)"

when i walked in the room and said to the grandson that he looked like he must have been a kind man the first thing that the grandson said was 'he was a fire chief you know'. conversation ensued and he told me how devastated his grand dad was with the september 11th losses.

we will celebrate the 4th anniversary of the worcester fire in early december. on the first anniversary instead of buying my staff a christmas gift i made a donation to the families of the WFD. probably one of the my best management decisions.

thank you again.

mother/babyRN, RN

11 Articles; 1,587 Posts

Specializes in cardiac, diabetes, OB/GYN.

And thankyou to you both....

This topic is now closed to further replies.

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X