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President Bush joins in memorial

President Bush has joined in remembering the 14 people who perished in the Storm King Fire of 1994.”The courage and dedicated service of the men and women who gave their lives fighting the Storm King Mountain Fire will not be forgotten,” Bush wrote in a short letter delivered to the Storm King 14 Committee and made public Tuesday.President Bush’s letter was the result of an effort Storm King 14 Committee member Greg Little began in January.”I never imagined it would be that tough,” he said of his endeavor.He eventually got things moving when he contacted the Glenwood Springs office of U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction.”He kind of just took the ball and ran with it and managed to get it to the right people,” Little said.McInnis is a Glenwood Springs native and helped in the recovery of the bodies of the fallen firefighters. His staff worked with White House contacts to obtain the letter, which Bush signed April 30.McInnis spokesman Blair Jones said that in making the request for the letters, staff members explained what happened at Storm King and how the community was coming together to recognize the anniversary of the tragedy.”The White House responded in kind, saying ‘Yes, we realize the significance of the event, and we’ll send greetings from the president,'” Blair said.The fact that Bush responded to the request says something about Storm King’s place in history.”It’s not something you ask the White House to do for an everyday event,” said Jones.Bush is the second president to salute the fallen firefighters. The day after the disaster, President Clinton called Roy Romer, then Colorado’s governor, while aboard Air Force One over Europe.Romer arrived in Glenwood Springs after the discovery of the bodies of the first 12 of the 14 firefighters who died. Clinton told him the 12 were “very brave and courageous,” and asked that his condolences be sent to their families.The original letter from Bush will be displayed at the new downtown fire department in Glenwood Springs, upon the building’s completion. Copies are being given to the families of the Storm King victims.Little was disappointed in the letter in one respect. While it singles out the contributions of Hotshots and smokejumpers in fighting wildfires, Little also had asked helitack, or helicopter attack, crews to be mentioned. Two of the Storm King victims had been members of such a crew.But Little didn’t want to make an issue of it, knowing how hard it had been to get the letter from the president.And he was happy with Bush’s overall message, and to whom it was addressed.”It’s not to an individual, it’s to the community, and that’s important, that what we were after,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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