Guest opinion: Honor our first responders on Friday |

Guest opinion: Honor our first responders on Friday

Kathryn Trauger

“We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember …”

— George W. Bush

As we remember the 15th anniversary of 9/11, many of our thoughts turn to the victims who were aboard the four airplanes, in the twin towers, and at the Pentagon. We also remember their families, who, after 15 years, still feel the grief and pain of their loss. We remember that 3,040 people died that day.

During this time my thoughts turn particularly to the first responders who endangered their lives to save thousands more. In my family, we have several first responders, so these deaths are particularly painful. It is thought that the heroic action taken by first responders on 9/11 prevented the deaths of 25,000 people. Four hundred fifteen law enforcement officers and firefighters lost their lives that day. We will remember.

In our own cities and towns, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, we have heroes who stand ready and willing to risk their lives to protect ours. These men and women — our first responders — are members of our police departments, our fire and emergency services departments, our sheriff departments and our highway patrol.

There are also unsung heroes behind the scenes; our communications people. Most of us never give a thought to the fact that while we sleep they are keeping watch over our neighborhoods and highways. They stand ready to respond to auto crashes, heart attacks, mountain lion sightings and much, much more. They are willing to give their lives to protect ours.

This year alone, 80 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Three of those were in Colorado; Las Animas County Deputy Sheriff Travis Russell, Park County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Nate Carrigan and Mesa County Deputy Sheriff Derek Geer. Firefighter deaths stand at 57 for 2016. I honor each of these individuals for their service to their communities.

Too often, those in public service hear only the complaints: “Why aren’t you writing more speeding tickets on Grand Avenue?” or “Why can’t you direct traffic during rush hour?”

Thank you, Tillie Fischer, for your recent letter to the editor about our fire/emergency services department. You don’t know how much that means.

In Glenwood, just as in the surrounding communities, we have exceptional personnel, working as our emergency responders. Why do they give up holidays, miss birthdays and work all night in blizzard conditions? Because they love the work. Recently, I heard from one police officer who took a $30,000 pay cut to change careers — because this was what he wanted to do — serve and protect.

Last year, on 9/11, I organized a hastily put together “thank-you” to our first responders in the plaza by City Hall and the Sheriff’s Office. I was overwhelmed that in a few short hours we would have the number of people show up, just to say thanks to area police departments, sheriff deputies and fire departments. There was no enticement to come, but come they did. Many people asked me to make it an annual event. Later in the fall, the Glenwood Springs Elks Club hosted their first celebration, dubbed “Burgers for Badges” honoring our first responders. It, too, was an overwhelming success.

Now it is time to show our support for our first responders. This year, Annette Franta with the Glenwood Springs Elks Lodge and I decided to combine our effort. As a result, the second annual Burgers for Badges will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, in the plaza just outside City Hall. The Elks Club and the city of Glenwood will serve a free lunch to all first responders and their families. A special thanks to many other sponsors and businesses who have generously contributed.

We welcome and encourage everyone to come and join us. Please stay and have lunch with our firefighters, officers, deputies, troopers and communication staff. Show them how much you appreciate them. All we are asking is a $5 donation to the Elks for an excellent lunch. It will be a great time to talk with and personally thank these men and women for the wonderful job they do. Let’s take the time out of our day to show just how much we appreciate them.

If you can’t make it in person, or even if you can, we have thank-you posters at all the branch libraries. Please stop by and pen a short thanks or word of encouragement. We will have these available on the 16th and present them to various departments.

We owe our first responders our respect and gratitude. Please join me on Friday in expressing our sincere appreciation, as a community and as a region.

Kathryn Trauger is a Glenwood Springs city councilwoman.

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