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Home>Topics>>FDIC 2009: Celebrities and Leaders

FDIC 2009: Celebrities and Leaders

Thu, 23 Apr 2009|

Chief Halton describes the differences between fire service leaders and celebrities and the need for true leadership in the fire service.



Ladies and gentlemen. Bobby Holton. Before -- begin. I'd ask -- favor of a good friend of mine good friend -- -- Was watching hopefully is watching today. I'd like to ask -- -- just take a moment and to think good thoughts and to send good wishes to Hal Bruno. Long time lifetime writer for -- magazine political commentary. And a great man great from the fire service is very -- So realistic a second and send our best wishes that out hope he recovers quickly is an -- -- service is a great man and great. We will discuss second now. -- -- well. Good morning. Today the stage is going to be graced by the presence of five giants'. True leaders in our industry and each one of them is focused on making crucial advances. And different aspects of our profession. What is it that makes these men so influential. So compelling. And so critical to the future Margaret profession. It's quite simple really. They're all possess one undeniable quality. And that's leadership. Each one of them is unique each one has very different styles and methods and abilities and yet they're all true leaders. Some might mistakenly say that they're celebrities in the fire service. But they would be incorrect. That's not to say that we don't have celebrities we do. Unfortunately for far far as the most the world we sometimes can't tell the difference between a celebrity and a leader. This difference although some -- is very important. For the world and particularly the fire service have a place for both our celebrities and our leaders today we desperately need our leaders. Not for who they are but a greater sense for a higher purpose. For what they represent. And we need -- celebrities call attention to our issues are leaders issues and the morning were thankful because we have both celebrities and leaders in this room. And they're all good firefighters. And if we're going to be successful if we're gonna be united if we're going to be effective. We need to recognize and -- -- both. The celebrity firefighter should use their skills and talents to bring attention to -- cost us. The celebrities should use the recognition to motivate others and to educate the fire service about our struggles against nature and technology and the on a celebrity. Absolutely it's gonna enjoy the recognition is gonna love the attention. -- should stay humble. To the real mention the greater mission. Leaders however are very different. And they're far more diverse. And therefore they're harder to recognizes. You see all you. The real leaders all of you in this room today -- -- humble men and women year old dedicated servants and you only seek to live what we call principled lives. The fundamental difference between a celebrity. And a leader has to do with their skills and abilities. Unfortunately again it can be extremely difficult to recognize -- skills and abilities. For example recently. And DC subway station. A man to got to violin and he began to play. DC subway station. He put about 45 minute and he played beautifully. Thousands of people walk by a few threw coins and bills into the open violin case but nobody stopped to lessons. About six or seven people pause briefly but nobody stayed -- like the time he played absolutely beautifully. However when he was done there was no applause there was no recognition of his skills. And undoubtedly if we had -- on that subway platform we would have recognized his skills either most of us lack the understanding. Of the complexity. Of violin music. And so has celebrity is not universally recognized. -- we all -- these blind spots and our vision and ability to recognize others skills. However our views of principles. Of values. Are commonly held views shared by all Americans and particularly well firefighters. So we recognize the shared collective vision -- it demands that we be ever more vigilant. Of what we mean to each other. And what we -- to our communities. Although the guy playing the violin and DC subway station. His name is Joshua Bell is arguably the greatest violinist of all time of great celebrity and a very good person -- -- you played that day. Involves the most intricate and beautiful violin music ever written the violin was worth 3.5. Million dollars and cameras on them. That two days before he played -- that DC subway station. He played to sold out audiences. Where the average ticket -- for over a hundred box. -- DC subway riders who heard the music couldn't be expected to appreciate -- recognize how what was played they're not trained musicians its regular folks. Mr. bell may be the most skillful violin player in the world but violin music doesn't connect us emotionally any personal feelings. Anything we we we value. Violin music doesn't get -- emotionally. Not the way real leaders lines him. But how could it matter. We want what difference could it really make. Firefighters don't -- the entire country. What we do. Or represent. Matters little. -- -- If you believe that. You really feel that way. Consider this. In the mid seventy's at the United States Air Force Academy Colorado Springs there were this really an impressive figure just a -- Guy named bill Crawford you've been working there for about thirty years mostly airman just of them from granite. The -- -- polite to mr. Crawford. But he was simply the squadron janitor. While the cadets busy themselves with academy life -- quietly went around the squadron. Mopping the floors empty trash cans cleaning toilets just -- up the mess. Almost thirty years no one gave him and he knows. They'll sell them smoke -- -- conduct spoke to him first and that didn't happen very often. The simple gender blended into the woodwork just came just another -- from the -- In the academy. It keeps its members' busy from dawn till dusk. And bill Crawford. Well. It's just yet. That all changed -- Saturday morning in 1976 this young cadet was reading a book about the tough allied ground campaign immediately. When he stumbles across this incredible passage. On September 13 he read. In 1943 private William Crawford from Colorado -- -- -- 36 infantry division had been involved in some bloody fighting. You -- for 24 alternately. The words -- the page read. And I'll read them to you in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire with no regard for his own personal safety and on his own initiative. Private Crawford's single handedly -- several fortified enemy positions it continued. For conspicuous gallantry an atrocity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty until 424. Private Crawford took out three enemy machine guns before darkness fell halting the enemy platoons advance. A -- Crawford can be found the next day and it was assumed he was dead so the request for the medal of honor moved quickly. It was presented to his dad posthumously. On eleven -- 81944. Two months after that they learned deprive -- Crawford was alive and it was and a POW camp in Germany. During his captivity bill Crawford was nearly beaten to death he was forced to march 500 miles existing on one potato -- Private Crawford was liberated in the spring of 1945. All of the kid realizes that the man that he had dismissed as a janitor could be a congressional medal of honor winner. When he found bill Crawford the next morning he had the book he ran up on -- build a janitor. And it says is that what you mean this is this do. -- stares at a for a few seconds. Nieces. And -- The young future officers is -- White and you talk about. Why things. Those. That was when -- in my life. Happened -- But after that things were never the same -- squadron. The word spread like wildfire among all the airmen that there was a hero in the -- that mr. Crawford the janitor had won the medal of honor. The cadet who used the past will -- -- hardly a glance now greeted him with respectful mile and a good morning mr. Crawford. The cadets began to talk to bill and they began to invite him to all the -- functions and built properly would show up dressed in the conservative dark suit. And the only. A symbol of his heroics was a simple star spangled -- -- An overnight bill went from being a simple fixture in the squadron. To being a role model and a leader. You see. It was not the man mister Crawford that those young airman was so impressed by. It was the sacred honor and the principal life that he had lived if those same principles. That you have all sworn to represent. Those same principles that you all honor and which the men who are going to follow me on this stage year to date. Have so unbearably embodied their entire careers. The chairman recognized mr. Crawford is a true leader not only how he -- -- that day. That heroic day immediately but the way he diligently and deliberately -- his work isn't cheap here. The way -- honored themselves an end them and himself with his gentle and humble manner. And so today you to a recognized as leaders and you -- -- recognized that way not as individuals. But because of the collective experiences and history and the secret honor that the world -- each and every one EU. These leaders that will enjoy this morning -- much like bill Crawford they have all shown their heroism they have all displayed their courage. But now they choose to serve us in different ways behind the scenes. Cleaning up messes with contracts and relationships diligently and quietly going around mopping up -- and the government. And on the fire ground. Setting an example for us with a highly principled and honorable lives. And -- this morning. Let's enjoy the talents of our celebrities -- honor the sacrifices. And the hard work of our leaders. But let's understand the difference between the two and not confuse them. Let's remember that the celebrity is only recognized. By those are familiar with the work and the difficulty of the skills that they've mastered. And and Arafat of celebrities are good firefighters first -- -- couldn't exercise those talents for our mission. But celebrity. Firefighters. Only exist within our community. I'm -- urge you go to be very aware that undeniably. The leadership of the American fire service in the Canadian fire service is another matter altogether. For example the man or woman seated next to you in this room right now and the five heroes we're -- -- -- with their time this morning. Have relevant as far beyond just the community of fire fighters. Today's achieved for the firefighter who might be sitting next to you perhaps -- yesterday morning left an entire school board more aware of the need to provide immediate. And competent. Buyer base. -- their entire department to understand the responsibility. To recognize and prepare for more increasingly. And complex fires and the union officer -- the volunteer chief -- sit next to -- side by side in this room. Both probably left the meeting. Where they honestly and passionately explained. -- more firefighters are so desperately needed they risked their future advancement with reckless abandon because they know deeply understand. That only -- -- believes you can do more with what. And that numbers. -- safety on the fire ground. You are there. You are the leaders meeting those principled lives for which you will ever be remembered. The instructors the inspectors the dispatchers the firefighters the chiefs and recruit. You are dedicated humble servants and you had touched the lives of countless citizens and each time. You made it better. I stand before you today were great humility and appreciation for being allowed to be with you here today. -- not consider myself a leader. But I'm rather a minor celebrity and not on my own making but by the generosity of your patients. And is indeed an honor and a privilege to be allowed here this morning to simply say. Thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your compassion -- what you've done for me and from family. For your communities and each other. So I hope today that -- stand with me. And swear before god and one another. That we will never let a good firefighter be injured. Not by words and deeds not by omission or -- -- but each one of us will use our leadership for our celebrity to speak out against those who do us harm. And we must push together to defend. Every firefighter who -- by God's design. Is called to give that last full measure. And as a leader not a stand before you -- -- -- -- What is common fired rounds -- -- my willingness to fight for every -- -- as hard as I Campbell only died when I draw that last breath I guarantee you that. Thank you all for your leadership your courage your own faltering honor I love you all god bless America god bless this great country.

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