We have just returned from Florence following the tragedy of this past week. Our hope was to reach out to as many of our emergency services personnel as possible and, thanks to members of our Firefighter, EMS and 911 Support Teams, we were successful.

The horrendous events that took place there this week will be forever imprinted in our minds. We grieve for our law enforcement partners and are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers. We also are keeping our Fire, EMS, and 911 families close in our hearts as this has been a life-changing event for them as well.

Today, we were invited to join the other emergency services personnel to have lunch at a local school. The faculty and parents’ association had come together to provide a meal and an opportunity to relax. When we arrived at the school, there were about ten of us walking into the school together, firefighters, EMS personnel, law enforcement officers, and our Team members. As we walked across the front of the school yard, we were separated by a fence from a large group of children playing outside. When they saw us, they all ran to the fence to greet us, to shake our hands, to give us a fist bump, and in some cases, just to touch us. We all stopped to greet them and to enjoy the attention.

In the lunchroom, we sat in various places, intermingled with the third-grade students having lunch. The lunchroom staff had prepared a great meal and some of the students shared it with us. Others brought their own food from home and began to open their containers of sandwiches, pizza, and other snacks. It brought me back to my childhood as I made a feeble attempt to trade a dinner roll for a slice of pizza (no luck). It allowed us to enjoy their company and to share in their laughter. More importantly, we felt that all was right in the world again, even if just for a few minutes.