Popular culture is fond of bandying about the word “hero.”
We ascribe that title to athletes and to movie stars who play heroic figures on the big screen.
One of our communities caught fire in recent days. Fritch, in Hutchinson County, has been battling wildfires. You want a definition of a real hero? Look to the people who plunge into the fire to battle it face to face.
We know all this, of course. We know about the heroism our firefighters exhibit all the time. The same can be said of police officers, who answer calls that should be “routine,” but too often prove to be anything but.
Today, let’s single out the firefighters for hero recognition.
I ran into one of them just yesterday. He was mowing a lawn two doors west of where my wife and I live. I walked over just to visit with him and to get a price on lawn mowing services. He said he’s been cutting grass part time for 22 years. His real job? He’s an Amarillo firefighter stationed at the River Road station just north of Thompson Park.
The fellow has had his hands full in recent days, battling the Fritch fire along with firefighters from other departments all across the northern Panhandle.
It’s good to understand, too, that those rural firefighters — the folks who work in our small farming and ranching communities — are volunteers who don’t get paid to suit up and plunge into the inferno.
The 9/11 tragedy nearly 13 years ago educated many Americans about the heroism our firefighters exhibit. Remember the stories of those individuals running upstairs into the Twin Towers to rescue those who were trapped?
Does that define a hero? You bet it does.
The fire season has arrived a bit early this year. Our firefighters are going have a busy time of it, particularly if the region remains as dry as it’s been.
They will put their lives on the line as they fight to protect people from the flames. They are heroes who should make us proud.