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Sometimes it feels like we don’t give a second thought to those who serve and protect our communities and our country. I want to say that they aren’t given enough recognition, but that isn’t exactly what I mean because I know that the vast majority of them don’t want recognition. They just want to be told they do a good job. They aren’t heroes in their minds, they’re just doing their jobs. Jobs they love. We don’t recognize the sacrifices they make, until they make that ultimate sacrifice. When I say we, I mean us… city council, county commissioners, state representatives, US…Americans. No one minds complaining about any of their services, but offer a compliment? Rare. This isn’t a battle between our Emergency Medical Services, Law Enforcement, Fire Protection or even our Military. No matter how you feel, they all give, they all serve, they all protect, they all sacrifice, some of them suffer and sometimes, some of them don’t come home. Then we want to recognize them. Why do we wait?

Speaking of not giving a second thought to people. We rarely acknowledge the FAMILY they leave behind, when they are on duty, until they are truly, “left behind”. Why do we wait? That seems unfair. I may be biased, but these families sacrifice a great deal as well. I sacrifice. The children sacrifice. We all learn to take care of things that they can’t be there to do. We adapt to celebrating things without them, then again with them. We struggle when kids are sick and we’re dealing with it again, alone. Flat tires. Teacher conferences. Taxi time. All of the house chores and sometimes, the yard chores. We live life without them for 24 hours to months at the time. We manage with emails, texts, phone calls or video chat. We cry when we’re lonely and stand firm when we must. We serve and protect our own homes, while our loved ones serve and protect others. Why do we wait to recognize that?

You may remember back to the end of May when Houston, Texas had a 5 alarm apartment fire that killed 4 and injured several. Bill Dowling was one of those severely injured. He remains in the hospital to date. I want to tell you everything he has lost, that includes his legs, but even more so… what he has gained. His wife (Jacki) has been, through Facebook, one of the most inspirational and strong women I have even seen. I don’t know her, yet I do. We’ve never spoken, but she speaks to me. She is a firefighter’s wife… and so I feel that any of us wives could be in her shoes. What if this happened to you, me or someone in our departments? Why do we wait until tragedy happens to recognize how strong we are? We all sacrifice before tragedy strikes and even more so when it does. I have no doubt this lady was strong before and even stronger now, but was she ever told that? I hope so.

Why wait? The next time you see any of our finest, whether it’s your city’s public safety or a person in military garb… thank them. They aren’t looking for praise, just gratitude. If they are with their family, thank them too. It is a wild life, I can only imagine how wild it is for those who are gone for literal weeks and months. We aren’t seeking praise either, just a small bit of gratitude for loving a person who chooses to take care of everyone, not just themselves or their family. Because they often spend more time dealing with and taking care of other people, than they do with their own family. Because sometimes, we miss them, but are super proud that they are out in the world, with compassion. We shouldn’t be waiting to see how strong we all are.

Are you waiting?