Recently an effort was made in Congress to honor all members of our public safety team with a single day called “First Responders Day” on Oct. 28. It never came out of committee in the House. Many states have set aside days for this honor, but they have low visibility and are usually known only to the honorees, their families, friends, public officials, and a few informed citizens.
The day for this honor should include:
- Both solemnity and celebration;
- It need not be a new national day-off holiday, we already have 10;
- It should be national in observance;
- It should have historical linkage to the early development of both services;
- There should be parades, civic, and social events associated with this day.
My suggestion for this honor is March 17, St Patrick’s Day. This day certainly fits the bill on all counts. In the mid-1800’s Irish immigrants came to America to seek a better life. They found much resistance in being accepted with signs that stated “NINA” — "No Irish Need Apply." They then accepted the low-paying, dangerous service work with the police or fire departments. Historians have suggested that the Irish contributed greatly into transforming these positions into the highly professional and dedicated careers that we see today in our law enforcement agencies and our fire and rescue services.
Every year over 200 members lose their lives and approximately 200,000 are injured, some seriously, from on-duty incidents.
This highly deserved honor is long overdue.
The writer is president of RES Associates in Warwick.