Last Friday night once again made me proud to be an American. Seeing the amazing work of law enforcement agencies in Boston and, after the coward was arrested, seeing Americans standing along the street and cheering for law enforcement agencies as they left Watertown, seeing people come out into streets and celebrate like the Sox had just won the World Series was incredible and reminded me of the days following 9/11, when Americans came together.
However, I am also cautious that as time goes by -- following the tragic events that transpired over the last week in Boston and West, Texas, where nine of the 14 killed in a fertilizer plant explosion were firefighters -- that Americans, particularly our political leaders, will forget our public safety workers. Following 9/11, our first responders were hailed as "heroes," even though they would say, "We're just doing our job."
Then, when the time presented itself, and the economy went downhill, these same first responders were blamed as the cause of it all, people called them "union thugs", "greedy" and many more untrue names. They became the scapegoat for Wall Street, for local, state and federal politicians and yes even by those same Americans who had called them heroes. The politicians cut their funding, tens of thousands were layed off, their pay was reduced or frozen, their pensions were reduced and many more benefits that were promised were taken away.
What does it say about us when it takes a tragedy for Americans to cheer for our first responders or simply say "thank you?" They earn their pay and their benefits each and every time they put on their uniforms. They deserve our respect and admiration. We cheer on our favorite sports teams and athletes who are making millions of dollars while first responders put their lives on the line for $30,000 to $40,000, and some for free. I hope and pray after the media is gone and the next news story comes about that all Americans, including our political leaders, do in fact never forget. God bless our brave first responders!
John Wright, Winchester