To the editor:
I am a stranger who lives some 1,400 miles from all of you. Having never ventured farther inland than Philadelphia, I know of Tonganoxie only because a good friend of mine lives there.
Apart from being a loving father and husband, a devoted member of his church and a kind and trusted neighbor, he also finds time to help his community as a volunteer firefighter for an area township. He is a man I am very proud to call my friend. He was one of the many who responded early on Sunday to fight the fire that tragically claimed the life of one of your own.
On his behalf, but not singling him out, I would like to express my own heartfelt gratitude to all of the courageous private citizens who took up the call and fought bravely and tirelessly to bring the devastating blaze under control. There are those among them who took very personally the loss of life caused by this fire, and have felt this loss deeply in their own hearts. I would like to tell them what I told their brother firefighter, that there are so few among us who are willing to not only inconvenience themselves, but to put their own lives in jeopardy to protect the lives and property of their neighbors, many of whom are strangers to them. Each of them is a rare and precious gift to their community, and it can only be guessed how many such tragedies have been averted as a result of their efforts. Living in a city where all the firefighters are paid for the arduous duties they perform, I am awestruck that there are everyday, hard-working individuals willing to take on this difficult task with no expectation of compensation of any kind.
I may not be a resident of your area, but as a member of the community of man, I would like to say thank you to each and every one of them, and pray that the good Lord bless them, and keep them and their families safe, healthy and happy.
None deserve that more than those who are willing to help a stranger who needs them.
Donna Walker, Brockton, Mass.