I was going to dedicate today’s blog post to the books I enjoyed as a child. A “summer reading list” per say. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt that a book is somehow better when it can be read while water licks at my toes and the sun warms the pages.
I didn’t have the entire list picked out, but I had a start: some of those books I still go back and read every few years and almost always find a new gem, a new twist, that I hadn’t noticed before.
However, as I started to type, I realized how trite that list would be. A mere 450 miles from my home there are people who no longer have a home to go to. The Colorado Springs fire has forced 34,000 people to evacuate.
Closer to home for me, are two more wildfires. The Crow Peak fire is burning up the side of a mountain above Spearfish, South Dakota. A lightening strike almost a week ago caused the 130-acres fire. Even closer is a fire at Dakota Point—just 15 miles from Mt. Rushmore—which has already burned 300 acres.
And with numbers like that, a lighthearted post about my favorite books seemed wrong somehow.
According to the US Forest Service, there are 47 different wildfires going on right now. I have no idea how many are threatening communities. I know that all 47 are threatening lives. At the very least, the firefighters who are putting out the blazes are in danger. Here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where temperatures have reached record highs and the wind has maintained a steady breeze, no one has been treated for anything worse than heat exhaustion. (Hey, that’s a lot of gear to be wearing in 100-plus degree heat in front of a even hotter fire.)
Remember, in most places the word “volunteer” precedes the word “firefighter.” These men and women are doing the job because they love it. Because they enjoy it. Because they are donating a service to their communities. They don’t do it to pay the bills.
As the US starts to celebrate their independence with picnics and parades, take a minute to thank those volunteers for the sacrifices they make. Let them know that in the midst of the celebrations, someone is appreciating the time and energy they have taken away from their families and selflessly donated to the entire community.
Nichole Bennett is the author of Ghost Mountain and comes from a family of community servants, including five former military members, two police officers and four volunteer firefighters.