I am very thankful that we can still celebrate Independence Day here in the United States. Many of us typically celebrate with fireworks, picnics, barbecues and family get-togethers which commemorate probably the most important day in our country’s history. As a nation, the United States of America is very blessed because of the sacrifice of all those who fought to procure our freedoms.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! —Psalm 33:11-12
Let us never forget how blessed we are as a nation … under God … whose freedom was bought at a great price.
19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Firefighters
I do not want to minimize the importance of this July 4th commemoration, the reason we celebrate it, or the enormous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the various branches of the military to protect our country and our freedoms. But I also need to share further information about some other heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect us earlier this week.
Please forgive me if it seems that I am dishonoring or disrespecting our military in any way by talking about these other brave souls. It is absolutely not my intention to do so.
This is just a simple tribute to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Firefighters, and the family and friends they left behind. A wonderful Facebook group established to honor the memories of these fallen heroes and to support their families created the great banner image below.
I did not personally know any of these brave men but my son did and so did several of my friends. We are all grieving their deaths, most of whom were so young.
The Yarnell 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots:
Credit: Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots Facebook page
Andrew Ashcraft, 29
Robert Caldwell, 23
Travis Carter, 31
Dustin Deford, 24
Christopher MacKenzie, 30
Eric Marsh, 43
Grant McKee, 21
Sean Misner, 26
Scott Norris, 28
Wade Parker, 22
John Percin, 24
Anthony Rose, 23
Jesse Steed, 36
Joe Thurston, 32
Travis Turbyfill, 27
William Warneke, 25
Clayton Whitted, 28
Kevin Woyjeck, 21
Garret Zuppiger, 27
You can read the “Families, Friends of The Yarnell 19 Speak Out” story here.
Several members of our church are retired firefighters who come out of retirement every year to help fight these wildfires. I am very thankful to each and every one of them for their service over the years.
Our church has been for praying for the families of the 19 men who perished in the Yarnell Hill fire and for firefighters who are still fighting the Yarnell fire as well as other wildfires in Arizona and other western states.
Please keep in mind—and in prayer—that there was a survivor of that horrible wildfire incident last Sunday. Of the 20-man Granite Mountain Hotshot team, one of the men survived. This was most likely because he was assigned to be the lookout that day and happened to be away from the rest of his team. He was up on a ridge checking weather conditions and radioing the information back to the rest of his team when they perished.
I’d rather not share his name here because he is more than likely struggling with why he was the only survivor. Maybe someday he will be ready to talk about this; maybe not. At any rate, he should be allowed the time and space to get through his many conflicting emotions about that fateful day without media or anyone else crowding him.
Our church held a prayer meeting on Monday night which I was sadly not able to attend, but I’m thankful that one of the ladies had the foresight to take some photos to share with us.
This is the result of how they decorated one of the parking lot fences:
Look closely and you’ll see it reads “Pray 4 Fire Crews”
The next photos show the alternating messages on the digital sign outside the church:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:13