The dictionary defines the word hero as “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” I define the word hero as “my brother.”
My brother is a full-time and volunteer firefighter. Last night, he lost a brother firefighter that he’s known for 20 years, Mark Falkenhan. Mark was a retired paid firefighter and still a volunteer. While fighting a fire last night, he became trapped inside a building and died of his injuries. He was only 43, with a wife and two children. My heart and prayers go out to his family, friends, and firefighting brothers.
My own brother has been a firefighter since he was 18 and old enough to become a volunteer. It’s all he’s ever wanted. He decided at age 4 or 5 that he would be a fireman, and that decision never wavered. Even when it took him many years to become a paid firefighter. During that time, he volunteered and honed his skills.
My mind goes back to the time when he was just starting out. When there was a bad fire, he would come to me and talk, just to get it out of his system. But he never thought “I can’t do this.”
The worse part for me was when he would show me his burns or I could see him physically hurting. I would worry for his safety, and I still do. The worse part for him: when someone he went inside a burning building to rescue died. That was the only time I ever saw him cry about being a firefighter.
My brother is a decorated and honored brave firefighter. That’s not why he does it. I’m not sure why he does it. All I know is that a childhood dream came true for him and the world is a better, safer place because of it. I am so proud of him.
my brother…my hero…