08 Apr 2014

Honoring Nantucket Unsung Heroes

It’s been a somber few weeks for our nation and the world. The news ticker is flooded with the latest information (or lack of) on the missing jetliner, the unrest in Ukraine/Crimea, the horrific mudslide in Washington state and the earth quaking in southern California. Closer to home, those of us on Nantucket lived our own national headlines last week as a historic early spring snowstorm pounded our island relentlessly with wind and snow for almost 18 hours. As the storm wound down, but the wind howled on, we were horrified to turn on our televisions to see that our neighbors in Boston were embroiled in a headline of a different kind….the kind that destroys buildings and ultimately cost two of Boston’s heroic firefighters their lives and injured many others.

It has been humbling and heartwarming to watch the response to this tragic event. The photo above expresses the sentiment of the Nantucket people, our Boston friends and perhaps the nation at large. On this day, the winds now calm, the flag hauntingly still, but flown at half-staff to honor the fallen heroes in reverence and gratitude for two men who most of us never knew, but who all of us collectively mourn as we know at any moment it could be one of us they are rushing to save.  The Chaplain of the Boston Fire Department, Rev. Daniel J Mahoney said it best, “We take care of them in life and we take care of them in death.”

These moments, when those who risk their lives for us are lost, remind all of us to stop and consider how much those charged with serving and protecting us do. I, for one, am entirely guilty of taking them for granted. On a tiny island like Nantucket the contribution our firefighters, police department, first responders and their many associates make is unlimited and unwavering. These Nantucket unsung heroes wear many hats. You’re as likely to see a fire captain teaching a fire-prevention class to school children as you are leading his crew to battle a dangerous blaze on Centre Street. Our police force works diligently to protect us from hardened criminals while also directing traffic through the downtown maze of street repairs. Our EMS and hospital workers give as much tender care to bumps and bruises from a bike path collision as they do to a 3 car pile-up on Milestone Road. In a nutshell…they “do it all,” they do it selflessly and they do it for one reason – to keep all of us on Nantucket safe and secure.

Why not take some time in the coming weeks or months to stop by the Nantucket Fire Department or Nantucket Police Department and express your gratitude and appreciation to the men and women who serve our island? Design a family project to bake them cookies or pizzas, make a donation to their organizations or simply shake their hand or offer a hug. To the men and women who serve our island assiduously we want you to know….long before we have a need to punch those three ill-fated digits on our phones…how much we value all you do for the families, residents and visitors of Nantucket.

We salute you.

Shellie Dunlap

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