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Service involves sacrifice

(Editor’s note: The following is from Chaplain Chuck Bowman’s speech during the West Linn 9/11 ceremony. The talk was made while standing on the Willamette Park boat dock on the Willamette River in West Linn. The boat he refers to was used in the ceremony for the traditional ringing of the bells to signify the death of a firefighter or police officer.)

Thank you Mr. Mayor and honored guests. Our theme for tonight’s event is “Service involves Sacrifice.” In a few moments when the boat is located we will pause and reflect while the mayor and members of the TVF&R team ring a bell. The bell is used in fire service as an instrument for communication and notification. In the tradition of fire service, notification of a line of duty death was the ringing of the bell four times for a series of five rings. This was the notification that there had been a death of an officer and the flags were to be lowered to half staff. Bowman

In the events of 9/11 of the 3,000 deaths — 412 fire and police officers died — that was the largest number killed in the history of our nation. They died doing their duty.

Story after story could be told of the sacrifice of various officers running toward the towers or up the stairs trying to rescue others. America learned in a very graphic manner a truth which each firefighter and police officer knows — to serve in the fire service or in law enforcement means you might one day be called upon to sacrifice in order to serve.

Each year across our nation hundreds of officers make that decision to serve and end up making the ultimate sacrifice.

West Linn learned that lesson in a very sad manner this past year when one of our own, John Percin Jr., (who attended school in Lake Oswego) died fighting a wild land fire on a mountain in Arizona. It is especially fitting that we honor him today along with many others across our nation who have sacrificed.

I was once asked about being a chaplain and why I was so positive toward our officers. My reply was that in all of our society they are the only ones that I have found who run toward trouble when everyone else is running away.

Before this week ends may I encourage you to express your appreciation to an officer for the service they render knowing that their service might one day be a sacrifice.

I was asked to pray before the bell ringing. Would you join me?

Our father as you hear our words today may you also see our hearts, at times broken by the various sacrifices which are made in our behalf. We may question their sacrifices but we never fail to appreciate them. We may wonder but we never wander far from those moments of awe when we stand and applause the men and women of our nation and city who choose to serve knowing that their service may one day demand a sacrifice. We thank you for them. May they know how much we appreciate their service. Today, Lord, as we reflect upon 9/11, I would ask you to especially look over the officers of our local fire and police departments and other first responders. Protect them and keep them from harm’s way. Amen.

Now I would ask you to remain in an attitude of quietness while we honor our fallen by the ringing of the bells.

After the bell has been rung there will be a musical presentation we would invite you to come on to the pier and make any floral presentation by casting your flower into the river.

Thank you for your presence here today. May God bless you and the servants of safety in our community.

Chuck Bowman serves as the chaplain for the Lake Oswego Fire Department, the Lake Oswego Police Department and the West Linn Police Department.



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