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Our Opinion: A reminder of their sacrifice

March 28, 2002

On April 6 a memorial will be unveiled in Sacramento honoring the 850 firefighters in California who lost their lives in the performance of their duties since California became a state in 1850. There will be firefighters from Imperial County whose names will be on that memorial, a sad reminder of the price they paid to protect the lives of others.

The memorial is also a reminder of the tragedy of Sept. 11, when hundreds of firefighters and police officers lost their lives trying to save thousands from death in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The memorial also serves to remind us the crucial role firefighters play in our communities on a daily basis.

Their job — like that of police officers — is to risk their lives when called upon to do so. It is easy to take them for granted, especially when we go through long periods without major fires. Still, what doesn't get reported on a daily basis are the numerous medical aid calls firefighters, paramedics and other emergency services respond to each day.

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And when a large fire erupts, firefighters are there, attacking the flames to save us, our homes and our businesses. It's comforting to know that when we need them, they are there.

On April 6, think about firefighters a little bit. While you're at it, think again about those who lost their lives trying to save others on Sept. 11.

Also, think about those local firefighters who will be memorialized in Sacramento.

Their names are Mack Henson, an El Centro firefighter who died in 1931, David Gomez, an El Centro firefighter who died in 1976; Juan Candelario Lopez, a Calexico firefighter who died in 1994; and David Ray, a California Conservation Corps member who died in 1997 while battling a fire in Lakeside.

These people gave their lives in the performance of their duties or through illness brought on as a result of their work. All gave their lives unselfishly to a profession that, at its core, is based on saving lives.

One El Centro fire official said it is an honor that these names will be listed on the memorial, but we hope never to have to add another.

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