With profound sympathy and respect

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.

Firefighter Inspector Lundgaard’s co-worker’s saluted as the ambulance carrying him rode past Firehouse 1.
A caravan of emergency responder vehicles made their somber way up Drew Street, light’s flashing, sirens quiet. The line stretched down the whole street and around the corner to College Avenue.
God bless the AFD and APD.
The flag flew at halfmast at the Firehouse 1, where a steady stream of mourners left flowers near the memorial rock. If you would like to contribute to a memorial fund for Firefighter Inspector Lundgaard’s family, you can drop your contributions off in person at Firehouse 1,
Protecting Appleton since 1894.
Some very thoughtful person left a chalk message for the processional. I hope they saw this as they passed.

2 thoughts on “With profound sympathy and respect

  1. It was somber, but heartwarming to see the turnout. It was also especially difficult for me to see these always brave people struggling emotionally with what was happening. I happened upon the procession while traveling from campus to campus, took a moment to hop out of my car to watch and show respect. Immediately after, on my way back to Xavier High School, I saw the Neenah-Menasha Fire Department coming down Memorial towards downtown lights and sirens going, apparently responding to a call in Appleton while their counterparts mourned. It was a stark reminder that, like you said, they are back on their trucks taking what comes their way. I thank God for all of them, their bravery, and the bravery of their loved ones.

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