First responders carry a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.
In the eight years I've worked as a journalist, I've seen our local law enforcement officers, firefighters, etc. work long, thankless hours. I've watched our sheriff deliver news, to both the media and to the victim's family that a loved one tragically passed away. I've covered house fires where the residents lose all their earthly belongings. I've seen a hysterical mother show up at the scene of her son's motorcycle wreck where officers try to comfort her and direct her to the hospital where her baby is.
I've also seen a lot of positive.
Still, the men and women who whole-heartedly serve our community don't always get enough credit and recognition for the dangerous jobs they do.
I'm convinced if they could all meet my son, they would go home each night feeling like superheroes.
J.R. Nacarato III is my 2-year-old son. His favorite toys are cop cars, firetrucks and ambulances.
He has at- east five toy police cars and three firetrucks. We are working on his ambulance collection - but trust me, it will grow.
Everyday he plays with them. Once the batteries die and the sirens no longer work on these toys - he makes the noises himself. "Whoo!Whoo!Whoo! Firetruck, Mama!"
If we see a police officer on the television news, it's "Cop car, Mama!"
J.R. isn't typically a shy child. If we see a police officer or firefighter out in town, J.R. will run to them. He's interrupted a sheriff's deputy's lunch at Cracker Barrel just to say, "Hewhoa." (Translation: Hello.)
Last week, while at PetSense picking out toys and supplies for his new puppy, J.R. saw a firetruck nearby and couldn't wait to check it out.
Danny Allen, an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and firefighter with Wilson Emergency Management, couldn't have been kinder to him.
He allowed J.R. to try on his hat and hold the hose.
J.R. was on Cloud 9. He thought Mr. Allen hung the moon!
We were looking at his pictures next to the firetruck this morning and J.R. smiled so big and said, "Fireman. My friend."
So to Mr. Allen and all of our brave men and women who serve our city and county, many thanks.
You make more of a difference than you know.