Firemens Fellowship, The Charleston 9

This is the most meaningful and emotional post yet, and may be the most important post I ever make. I ask all those who view it to read it to the end and then watch the video on the link. It will make you cry as it should, I have cried each and every time I see it. The video is an example of what we should all strive to be and represents what I consider to be an ideal person, someone we should all embrace, a real life hero.

A year ago almost to the date I was approached by a gentleman who is now a friend of mine, but I did not know at the time, named Jeffery Micheal. He was asking me a lot of questions about food and cooking, which of course I enjoyed and did not mind answering. Then he asked me a question I will never forget, “If you could donate in anyway, how would you do it?”, and my answer was quick and simple, “I would feed those who can not feed themselves, need help, or a good meal that they just don’t often get”. Jeffery, being a former fireman himself had an idea in mind. From there we developed a plan to go to one firehouse in Charleston, once a month, on Sundays, to cook for all the firemen on duty and any of those who want to come in for a good meal. At first I liked the idea, Charleston had just gone through the horrible tragedy of what is now known as the Charleston 9 and this would be an opportunity to give back to those whom most of us never think about until we need them. To me it was a chance to say thank you. What this has turned into has been nothing less than a life changing experience.

At first, it was just fun, going to a firehouse and cooking for a bunch of guys who did not eat a great meal on a regular basis. Getting to know them on a personal level and merely chatting with them building a rapour and comradery like that which I have rarely experienced. What it has now become is a fellowship which I will forever cherish and never give up.

Last Sunday, June 2nd, we were cooking lunch for engine 15, at the Coming Street station. At first I did not realize the implications of this task, I had no idea that at this station was one of the most outstanding people you could ever meet, and that on this day he would be remembered for all his accomplishments on ESPN. What was to come was nothing less than one of the most emotional times I have ever experienced. What was to come was something that will forever change me and how I look at life and the choices I make. The fireman featured that day on ESPN was Captain Louis Mulkey, and though I never had the pleasure of meeting him personally, as he was one of the nine brave souls who perished that horrible day, I will never forget him or what he stood for. The emotion at the firehouse that day was amazing, defensive, sad, happy, and everything in between. Grown men able to face challenges far greater than most of us can imagine reduced to tears and selclusion. And in the end we all came together, we enjoyed a great meal and a moment of friendship and reflection, we enjoyed each others company, and we enjoyed the memory. I consider all of the many firemen I have cooked for as my friends and feel very concerned now every time I hear an engine go by. I must know the driver, or one of the fireman on board, I may have had lunch with him just the other day I feel myself thinking and I realize that I have never thought this way before, until I started cooking for these guys I have never really given in a second thought. I have personally met nearly all on the force and now know a little bit of what it must be like to be married to, or a family member of a fireman.

I implore you to watch the video on the link below. I will not lie and tell you that is “has a happy ending”, which is does in a way and doesn’t in another, but you may, and rightfully so, cry through the most of it. The video is long, almost 15 minutes in total, but is nothing when you think about the time firemen all over the nation spend saving lives, homes, families, pets, and everything we all hold dear, or the time that their family members live with out them in uncertainty. Please watch the video, let the emotions flow, and the next time you see a firemen in the store, on the street, or at the movie theater, say thank you for all that you do and sacrifice, thank you for what you give for me and my family, and thank you for choosing to be a true hero.

I do not feel like I can express what this past year’s experience has meant to me in words. It is a feeling deep down that I can only hope you feel as you watch the video, a tribute to a fallen hero, a tribute to a man who should be held up as and ideal person, a tribute to all of those who with out question risk their lives on a daily basis to save and protect those of others. I can only hope to inspire others the way Captain Louis Mulkey did.

Link: http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?&brand=null&videoId=3421852&n8pe6c=2

–matt bolus

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