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First responders deserve public's gratitude

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, its deputies, the Medford Police Department and Medford Fire-Rescue are to be commended for their 24/7 care and concern for the city of Medford (and beyond).

Daily they are standing their watches to protect us and to uphold the laws of the land. Their occupations come with a very high price and we, the public, need to be reminded of that, again and again.

In fact, throughout the United States — past, present and future — there have been and will be peace officers and firefighters who sacrificed or will sacrifice their lives in order to keep people safe in their homes, their schools, their workplaces, their neighborhoods, on their streets and to keep property safe, too.

These jobs demand a sacred sense of duty, personal acts of great courage and an unselfish willingness to serve their fellow man. Peace officers and firefighters know full well that at any moment they may be called upon to lay down their lives in order to protect, and to rescue total strangers — yet, they are grievously underappreciated by the public at large, and in the case of the law enforcement officer, often thoroughly hated, hunted down and killed for simply appearing in the uniform.

Theirs is a true and deeply forged brotherhood. A group banded together through common experiences, venting of stress, devoted camaraderie, dangerous situations and catastrophic events. They are called upon to deal with the most gruesome of sights and the most hideous of smells that this life has to offer.

Their families are unsung heroes as well. They cope with rotating shifts, separation on holidays and family events, plus mandatory overtime due to personnel shortages and budgetary cuts. This all pales in comparison with the unrelenting fact that, at any moment — day or night — a knock at the door or a ring of the doorbell can mean the loss of a loved one and the shattering of a family forever.

Granted, a small percentage of peace officers and firefighters have brought dishonor upon themselves and, consequently, the uniform, by their own corrupt behavior. Through wrongful acts, they have disqualified themselves from the public’s trust and from employment as public servants. But a vast majority are faithful in the execution of their duties. Many receive official recognition for stellar job performance. Some individuals are awarded for their devotion to duty, and in some cases, extreme acts of bravery, while still living and breathing, but all too often, they are recognized posthumously.

Their jobs are ultra-demanding mentally, physically and emotionally. They constantly face myriad occupational hazards to life and limb, they are always subjected to the risk of investigations and litigation, and their work, more often than not, is down-right frightening.

Peace officers and firefighters shoulder an awesome responsibility on the job and off, and their vocations and family life are filled with tremendous personal challenges and stress. Putting their lives on the line to protect and to serve others is a very special calling and a true form of selflessness. This makes their professions very noble and they are deeply respected by this writer, and many, many others, too.

In view of all that they go through and experience in this life, we must take our hats off to the deputies of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Medford Police, and our Medford Fire-Rescue.

These brave men and women of law enforcement and the Fire Department demonstrate their willingness to serve others every time they don their uniforms. We must be ever mindful, ever grateful, always respectful, compliant and thankful for the danger-laden task they perform in protecting and serving the public.

The price of sacrifice and cost up to and including their death — and few in our society have the courage to meet this occupational demand!

May the good Lord bless our deputies, our police and our firefighters, and their families, and may he keep them safe! Amen!

Jacqueline S. Glynn lives in Medford.