The Fourth of July parades that will kick off throughout the suburbs tomorrow almost universally have one thing in common -- they start or finish with a fire truck, and smiling firefighters waving to youngsters who dream of someday being just like them.
Everyday heroes who never know when danger is lurking, despite high-tech gear and extensive training. Young men and women and their mentors who take it upon themselves to save others.
But this week, as those trucks pass, we must remember the men. most in their 20s, who died trying to save others, whose high-tech gear still wasn't enough in the face of a wildfire that trapped them when winds caused the fire to grow from about 200 acres to about 2,000 acres in a matter of hours.
It's a horrifying story out of Arizona, but one that should resonate in every city and village throughout the country that relies on professional and volunteer firefighters to battle the elements no matter the risk.
And in Lake County, a former high school student is remembered among the 19 killed in Arizona. Anthony Rose, 23, attended Zion-Benton Township High School for two years before moving out of state and eventually becoming a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a unit based in Prescott, Ariz. Hotshot teams are elite groups of firefighters trained to battle the toughest wildfires in the country.
"He was the kind of guy that his smile lit up the whole room and everyone would just rally around him," said retired firefighter Greg Flores, who worked with Rose in Crown King, Ariz., according to a story on FoxPhoenix.com. "He loved what he was doing, and that brings me some peace of heart."
Rose and his girlfriend Tiffany have a baby girl due in October, the story said.
"We are very proud of Tony's career choice of being a professional firefighter and of his efforts to serve others," said Zion-Benton District 126 Superintendent Chris Clark in a statement. "We cannot think of a more honorable act than to give of one's life in the service of others."
Indeed, we cannot either. We are reminded of our editorial a few short months ago marking the 40th anniversary of the deaths of three Palatine volunteer firefighters in a retail store blaze. And of the 343 firefighters killed in the 9/11 attacks on New York in 2001.
And just as we rightly mourned those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings in April and the Shady Hook school shootings in December, we must as a nation also remember the 19 who gave their lives in Yarnell, Ariz.:
Andrew Ashcraft, 29; Robert Caldwell, 23; Travis Carter, 31; Dustin DeFord, 24; Chris MacKenzie, 30; Eric Marsh, 43: Grant McKee, 21; Sean Misner, 26; Scott Norris, 28; Wade Parker, 22; John Percin, Jr., 24; Anthony Rose, 23; Jesse Steed, 36; Joe Thurston, 32: Travis Turbyfill, 27; Billy Warneke, 25; Clayton Whitted, 28; Kevin Woyjeck, 21; Garret Zuppiger, 27.