To The Daily Sun,

The word hero seems to have lost its value in our society. Whereas before it may have been used to describe an act of selfless bravery, today we seem far too willing to throw around the label. Does a famous athlete deserve the title simply for hitting the game winning hit? Or does a famous movie star deserve it for donating a small portion of his fortune to a charity? I’ll leave that up to you, the reader, but allow for me to explain my definition of a hero.

As a young boy growing up in the Lakes Region, I vividly remember the tragic accident that claimed the life of Laconia Firefighter Mark Miller. Firefighter Miller, a devoted and beloved member of our community, died tragically during a training dive off of Weirs Beach. Just by chance, my parents and I were driving by that day and stopped and watched the commotion. Unsuspecting of the tragedy unfolding, I tugged on my father’s hand and asked him what was happening. He very calmly told me that although he wasn’t sure, the firefighters were obviously trying to help someone in need because that is what they do. No questions asked, they simply serve to protect those that need help.

Today, I am proud to work alongside the men and women of the Laconia Fire Department through my job at Lakes Region General Hospital. These firefighters are faced with challenges that most of us will never have to experience. One second, they will be transporting a sick child who is having trouble breathing, to only then be called out yet again to deal with a violent and combative intoxicated person. But through it all, regardless of the time of day, they will respond and be ready to help the next person in need.

Over the course of their careers, they will be faced with some of the most tragic of circumstances, and in most cases, they will bring calm to the chaos, stabilize the unstable and provide a second chance for those who face certain death. Their knowledge, skills and abilities required to achieve these actions are what give them the right to call themselves firefighters.

Oddly, however, what makes a true firefighter is not always what’s visible on the surface, but rather what lies deep beneath the surface — the selfless courage, the caring heart and the willful acknowledgement that their duty is to serve our communities and our citizens to the best of their ability, without the expectation of praise or reward.

Now, for those that are unaware, I felt compelled to write this letter in response to some crass remarks made by Councilman Robert Hamel recently at a Laconia City Council meeting in regards to the death of Mark Miller. And although Mr. Hamel claimed that through his years of police work he “knew what they go through,” his remarks showed an obvious disregard for what those men and women experience on a daily basis. So instead of making jokes about his tragic death, Mr. Hamel, perhaps you should take the time to learn about his life. Maybe then you’ll learn the true meaning of bravery and sacrifice.

Christopher Burbank


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