Kudos to the person doing the research on Memorials – it’s a noble cause. However I have one thing to suggest when discussing the “memorial” at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).
When it was decided in 1995 to establish a site that honored wildland firefighters at NIFC – there was some pretty clear direction given that it was to be a Monument, and not a “memorial”. The primary reason was that there were many fire memorials already out there, yet there wasn’t an area that was formally dedicated to living wildland firefighters, including their support personnel. So a Directors’ level decision was made to call the NIFC site the “Wildland Firefighters Monument.” And its credo was: ” Honoring wildland firefighters and the people who support them: past, present and future” – and to this day it remains so.
The NIFC Monument was a gift of love – from the fire community to the fire community. Vicki Minor, then a commissary contractor, and now President of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation generously got the monument started. After the 1994 fire season in which 34 lives were lost – Vicki donated her earnings for a higher calling. With a very generous donation, the seeds were planted to bring a “Monument” concept to fruition. And over time – through generous donations of time, materials, labor and corporate donations – the Monument came to be what it is today.
The NIFC monument celebrates life, as well as it commemorates death. It was designed to signify life’s regeneration through its living landscape – a perma-culture that represents many of the natural fuel types firefighters find in the higher elevations of the Great Basin. It symbolizes the wildfire elements that firefighters deal with everyday via the juxtaposition of the water running through its waterfall, to the bronze statues frozen in time as sentinels on watch – always ready for future firefights. The ribbon shaped path comes alive each Spring as a living blue ribbon hued by the blooms of native, blue wildflowers. And from the air it is truly a “ribbon of life” along the path of honor.
The NIFC Monument truly stands as a powerful place of healing. Many families, friends, and coworkers have healed while standing on its trail, and leave the site spirit filled with a sense of peace. Miracles happen there every day – some too personal to share in this message but sure enough carried by lore and heartfelt conversation. When the Monument was dedicated it was blessed on the theme of it being “common ground.” And today, it remains just so. The great equalizer for what once was and what will come. To have a memorial, you must have a past – to have a Monument – you have a grasp at the future. Hence the name.
For those of you who are not aware, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, another “miracle” borne of the Monument – is always there to help those who fall on the firelines and who can’t get back up. It assists families, friends, and those hearts of the living who need a hand when injuries happen. And it is a friend to the lost when a friend can not be found through good times and bad. The Foundation would never ask but I will. The Foundation needs your help. The foundation gives all that it takes in to people like you and me – and its time to help them out. Bring up the Wildland Firefighter Foundation website the next time you are on your computer. Give of yourself to help the others: those who have served in the past, those who serve now, and those we will need tomorrow. The Monument – Godwilling, it will always be there. Let’s help the Foundation.
Give what you can. The next miracle may be yours.
— Ghostload –
Ghostload, thanks for writing in. I have been wondering about the finances of the Foundation as they have been needed this year… 5 deaths in 4 days. I was concerned for the supporters at the Foundation as well as for the families and friends.
Readers, please take a moment and write a check $10, $25, $50, $100 or more, whatever you can afford, to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and snail-mail it to the address below. It’s tax deductible. (Or if you must, go to the website and donate by credit card. Click on “Yes, I want to help.” Some of the money goes to paypal when donated this way, but sometimes the convenience for donors is worth it. The Foundation needs your help.
Wildland Firefighter Foundationâ€¨3880 S. Development Aveâ€¨Boise, Idaho 83705â€¨(208)336-2996; Fax (208)336-2995â€¨â€¨Last year at the end of fire season the Foundation’s funds were depleted. Many families had been assisted financially following deaths of their loved ones. It’s scary to face a new fire season without sufficient funds to help those who may need it. We ALL need to support this service the Foundation performs for our extended fire family. It serves INTERAGENCY wildland firefighters! Break out your checkbooks (or credit cards) and give generously! A few bucks from you and me gets leveraged into a gift beyond words for our fire families who need it. Vicki, Renee and others who provide this service — Thank you SO MUCH! –