I stood with my neighbors yesterday and watched as a long, sad line of heroes paid respects to one of their own.
Firefighter inspector Mitchell Lundgaard died Wednesday, the first Appleton firefighter to be killed in the line of duty since 1933.
From Milwaukee to Appleton, emergency responders and the citizens they protect made their way to Lundgaard’s heart-breaking homecoming from the medical examiner’s office. They saluted him from highway overpasses, access roads and sidewalks along the route.
As they rolled past us, lights flashing, sirens still, I thought about how each one would complete the procession, and then head right back out into the fray.
Some of the finest people we know work as emergency responders in this community and I say that without qualification. Our police, fire, EMT and crisis workers know every time they kiss a family member goodbye that it might be their last, and they show up for work every day anyway.
And, it’s not just their dedication to the job we admire, it’s their bravery, reliability, kindness and skill.
Today, while we digest the terrible news of his death, Firefighter Lundgaard’s co-workers will be back on their trucks, prepared to deal with whatever comes their way.
As we mourn the loss of a beloved husband and father of three young children, let’s also take a moment to appreciate the good people in our community who risk their lives every day to protect ours.