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Home>Topics>>FDIC 2011 Opening Ceremony: Bobby Halton Welcome Speech

FDIC 2011 Opening Ceremony: Bobby Halton Welcome Speech

Wed, 23 Mar 2011|

Bobby Halton, Education Director, FDIC and Editor, Fire Engineering reminds us why we should never forget.



Please welcome the Education Director for FDIC and the Editor, in chief fire engendering, Bobby Halton. [APPLAUSE] Good morning. Welcome to the 83rd FDIC we once again have been humbled by our wonderful friends who've so graciously shared their time and talent with us here this morning. We've been blessed by unparalleled display of honor, by inspiring music and a beautiful prayer. Thank you to everyone who put the show on. Big round of applause for the singers. [SOUND] This FDIC brings us some very sad news. This. For those of you who may not have heard, Indianapolis Battalion Chief Steve Auch passed away on February the 1st. Steve was integral to FDIC for the last 14 years. He loved this event dearly and he gave it his full attention, year in and year out. Out of love and with the deepest respect. We'd like to dedicate this 83rd FDIC to our friend Steve Alk. Joining with us today for a moment of silence is Steve's inseparable friend Bill Brown, and Steve's beloved wife, Donna. Now please join us in a moment of silence. Don, if you'd please stand. [BLANK_AUDIO] [BLANK_AUDIO] Thank you. Thank you, Donna. Thank you, Bill. I'd also like to acknowledge and introduce to you some very special guest dignitaries. These men are from the nation of India. And they represent the leadership of the India Fire Service. And this year, they're bringing the spirit of FDIC to India to our very first Fire Engineering conference in Delhi, India. And I expect to see all of you there. >> [LAUGH] >> So, gentlemen if you'll please stand and give Rick Robert, FDIC welcome. >> [SOUND]. You know in an era of broken promises and shattered trusts. Where everyone promises you the world, and delivers nothing, you firefighters do exactly the opposite. I'd like to reflect this morning about a promise you and I made, a promise that we intend to keep. We will never forget. In cities across our countries are statues. Monuments that inspire us to higher principles but at the same time, they cause us to reflect. Think back for a moment if you would for me, and try to remember how you felt the very first time that you saw that Statute of Liberty with her crown of seven rays with the shackles of tyranny and oppression crushed beneath her feet with that glorious torch lighting the way for millions of immigrants and millions more Americans back home. Think for a moment and try to remember how you felt the very first time that you saw that Washington Monument. The only free standing pure stone obelisk in the world. As unique in it's design as was the man. It stands as tall and unassailable as was his character, and it's engraved throughout with biblical verse, which was a tribute to Washington's devout life of piety. And his unfaltering belief in Divine providence. Think back for a moment, and try to remember how you felt the first time you saw the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln sitting stoically, pensively upon a great chair. A man who bore great burdens with tremendous character. Who endure tremendous setbacks without complain. Whose perseverance maintain this great union when a lesser man's insecurity would have caused him to commit, [UNKNOWN] or to compromise. Those glorious monuments remind us that this nation has always stood for that which is good. And the Fire Service has always stood for that which is good. Lincoln called it the better angels of our nature. Having monuments and statues to help us remember is very important. For within these monuments we see the values and principles that sustained those who were involved in those heroic struggles. Values and principles that you live every day. Nothing is more important to you than your principles. Nothing's more important to you than your values. Nothing's more important to you than your character. But as we go about our daily lives, it's kinda easy to understand why some people think that those sacred values and those principles are lost. That we have no modern examples of goodness, but they're wrong. All around us are heroes. Men and women who are willing to struggle against evil. Whether that evil comes from the barrel of a gun or the devastating power of fire and its toxic gases. When we listen to what's being celebrated and recognized in our media today, though, it is kinda hard to find those truly inspiring stories of great heroes. But once such story involves a 93-year-old gentleman who recently passed away at an assisted living center in Apartha, Pennsylvania. But back on June 6th, 1944, D-Day, he parachuted behind enemy lines with the 101st Airborne. Fought all the way through the Battle of the Bulge, liberation of Dachau, and on to Hitler's eagle's nest. When he returned home, he led a real quiet life. Didn't talk much about the war, until this writer named Ambrose made them famous in a book The Band of Brothers. He was by all accounts the biggest brother. Now Colonel **** Winters never claimed to be a hero, as a matter of fact when people asked him if he was a hero he would say no. But I served in a company of heroes. Sadly, when this American hero died, we heard little about his life in the media. So what we are doing here today matters. We dedicating ourselves to our pledge, it matters dearly. Why we are here today. Matters dearly. And what we say here today matters dearly. If we're to be true to the better angels of our nature. If we're to be better people, better firefighters. If we hope to inspire future generations to do great things, to do extraordinary things, then we must continue to build monuments that recognize and memorialize. Things that are noble. That reflect on what's noble in our world today. We must be true to our promise to never forget. Currently at ground zero, construction in underway building the freedom towers, a memorial to all of those. Who died on that tragic and mournful day 10 years ago. It's fitting and proper that this is done, but in a greater sense no one knows that there were 2 groups of people who died that day better than you. No one knows what a great loss the fire service suffered that day. Better than you. And no one knows the importance of a separate and distinct monument, which is needed for the responders of 9/11, better than you. A completely separate and unique monument, properly to represent the lives of those responders who were not taken. But who willingly risked their lives to try to protect their fellow man. A distinct monument is needed which will reflect that valiant struggle by those men of higher character, a monument that will forever remind us of their unblemished honor and forever inspire us to be true to the better angels of our nature. It is fitting and it is necessary that we do so. For if we fail to recognize why they were there, if we fail to recognize how they died that day, then we cannot complain when our society continues to celebrate that which represents our lesser angels. If we ignore the examples of higher character evil wins firefighters live by a common set of values values that we hold dear and we express them through our actions, our honor and our sacrifice and there was no greater willingness. Or example of that sacrifice than that which was shown on 9/11. This year, as we take time to remember the incredible bravery, the unparalleled display of higher character by the heroes of 9/11, we will take stock in ourselves. And reflect on how well we have appreciated the example that they left for us at such a dear price. They taught us the bravery comes not from a sense of vulnerability and lack of fear but just the opposite. We know that each one of them recognize the terrible danger involved in fighting a fire, so well developed. And so high above the ground. They drew their strength and quieted their fears because they knew they were serving in companies of heroes, but those 343 heroes would deny being heroes just as Colonel **** Winters did. He said that he didn't do anything special, that he was just doing his job. That any of his brothers in the unit would have done the same thing so while the latest teen ideal or falling movie star is being recognized or celebrated by those who control our media the real hero stories are going ignored. But those of us who sworn an allegiance to our communities. Those of us who've pledged to protect our neighbors. Those of us who've promised to never forget cannot not ignore what Colonel Winters and the 343 heroes of 9/11 so valiantly sacrified to teach us. That firefighting, as in war, depends not on heroes but on bonding. On character. On getting the job done and hanging tough. The heroes of 911, on that tragic day looked evil in the eye and said, it stops with me. They didn't know about the horrible conspiracy of men who perpetuated that day, but they recognized the horror that that fire represented to those who were trapped so high above that building. They met the fire that day with a courage that came from compassion. With a bravery that came from those unbreakable bonds of true camaraderie. They met the fire that day with an unrelenting need to get the job done that came from an unconditional love of their fellow man and an undefeatable strength that came from lifetimes of hanging tough. They met the fire that day with a belief in the angels of their better nature. A nature and a character that always placed honor above everything else. Like Colonel Winters, they would have said that they did what any other fire. Fighter would have done that day given the same circumstances. They would say that they were not heroes. That they were not brave. But we know that that is not true. They were heroes. Wood and all. Serving shoulder to shoulder in companies of heroes. So let us this year visit the memorials that we have. Nothing is more important. But let us dedicate ourselves to a new 9/11 responders monument. You deserve the monument solely in the memory of those men ennoble character. 343 who are gone, but they are not forgotten. And whose memories will inspire greatness in generations yet unborn. I want you to imagine for a moment a monument that fills America with a great promise, just as our lady in the harbor does. I want you to imagine a monument in blaze with unassailable integrity and unblemished honor just as the lies of George Washington, Ray Downy, Jack Fanning, Andy Fredericks. Pete Gancy, Tommy Calais and the other 338 heroes of 9/11. I want you imagine for a moment a monument. That will inspire everyone to persevere despite the odds. To never give in despite the pressure. To never despair despite the suffering. Just as Lincoln's beautiful memorial lifts our hearts to defend freedom for all, to defend this beautiful nation. I want you to imagine for a moment a monument dedicated devoted and most importantly deserving of representing the sacrifices and the memory of those we lost on 9/11. You see, those hero firefighters had a choice to make that day, and they decided to stay in that building. And their chiefs had a choice to make that day. And they decided to stay with their men. And the simple truth is, we get to make a choice. Whether our communities are filled with nondescript buildings filled with arts for art's sake, or filled with monuments, dedicated to inspiring future generations. Youd decide if you wanna have a nation whose values reflect those of Colonel Winter's and 343 heroes of 9/11 or the values of selfishness and narcissism. The heroes of 9/11 deserve to have their stories told. They deserve the praise the recognition and the admiration that we give them today. But not only today. Imagine if everyday we could hear their stories and our children could hear their stories and our grandchildren could hear their stories. You decide. These men we honor here this morning represent the best that society has to offer. They represent the angels of our better nature. They represent the greatest hope for our nation. They represent the best in man kind. And if you'd allow me for a moment to speak on behalf of all of us. This morning we promise that, here today, that we will never forget. We pledge that their sacrifices were not in vain. That their memories will live on in us. And that the example of honor that they set will be the standard which we are to be judged. May God forever bless them and may he continue to bless you in the days ahead. Thank you. [NOISE]

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