There are many different ways individuals and communities can show their admiration and respect for the first responders who keep them safe. Firefighters, police officers and paramedics put their lives on the line in the course of their everyday duties, and it's always heartening to see efforts made to salute their service. Whether these gestures of thanks take the form of one-off events or lasting monuments, the message will come through loud and clear: First responders render valuable services to their communities, placing the common good above their own safety. Below are two tributes to these sacrifices.
Chairs serve as memorials
Memorials to fallen first responders can take a number of forms. According to Texas news station KSAT, a nonprofit in San Antonio called Saving a Hero's Place is pioneering a new type of monument: wooden chairs. These symbolically hold spots for the fallen police officers, firefighters or paramedics they are dedicated to, ensuring the memory of those individuals lives on. The artisans behind the project explained that the finished pieces are often emotionally received by family members or departments that have lost someone and that their creative process has a powerful effect.
According to the news provider, Michael Pullen, a chaplain at the nonprofit group, believes the chairs are a powerful way to carry on the legacy of the individuals whose names are engraved on them. The materials for the chairs are donated and they are given away without cost. Instead of being mass-produced, the memorial chairs are each crafted by hand, which means they have a personal touch. Saving a Hero's Place has made more than 30 chairs so far.
"There's a lot of time to think about what the officer did," Pullen told KSAT. "Not necessarily how he died, but how he lived serving his community."
Eagle release salutes first responders
Another recent example of a unique and heartfelt salute to veterans comes from Utah, where the Southwest Wildlife Foundation plans to release a rescued eagle back into the wild in a ceremony dedicated to first responders. The organization's founder and CEO Martin Tyner explained that the conservation group hopes to highlight the bravery and dedication of emergency personnel through the symbolic act of returning the bird to the sky. He said that the natural beauty of the area where the eagle is being released, in the mountains overlooking Cedar City, Utah, should create a moving spectacle.
— SWFgowildlife (@SWFgowildlife) August 15, 2016
Tyner stated the bird in question has been in the Southwest Wildlife Foundation's care since July. Suffering from the effects of heat and almost starving, the eagle was saved by care from the group's members. Over the past month, the golden eagle regained its strength, and now it is set to become part of the tribute to first responder bravery. Tyner noted that numerous native traditions ascribe prayers and wishes to eagle feathers, making it a fitting choice for such an event.
The eagle release and chair donation projects demonstrate that organizations thinking outside of the box can show they appreciate first responders' efforts and sacrifices through unique displays.