The year 2003 is upon us. Once again, we find ourselves on the doorstep of yet another new year. It is a time to pause and ponder upon what has transpired in the year just past. It is also the traditional time to give voice to our hopes and dreams for the coming year.
Each New Year that we approach offers us a fresh slate upon which we have the opportunity to draw the designs that constitute our lives, our careers, and our families. We sincerely hope that good things will hap
pen to our friends, our families, and us for as Alexander Pope stated so eloquently, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast". Unfortunately, there are some blips on our radar screen that do not look promising. Once again, we see a year ahead where the possibility exists that some old problems may once again be revisited upon us.
Let me offer a bit of my personal philosophy to guide your journey into the immediate future. It has been my experience that the years come and the years go. This is inevitable. People come and people go. This too is a part of life. Old friends occasionally pass on and, if we are truly fortunate, new people will step into our lives that will become our new friends. This is truly a blessing. Therefore, it has been since time immemorial.
My friends, family, and I have been most fortunate in that 2002 was a good year. We lost a minimum of old friends, and met a nice variety of people with whom friendships will hopefully develop over time. We must nurture all of these new relationships to give them time to strengthen and grow.
Many fine people from around North America have taken the time to share their thoughts, dreams, and experiences with me during 2002. Because of them and their stories of their sad states of affairs, I have been able to create many of the commentaries you have seen this year. Many others have also made first-rate suggestions for topics to study.
As much as I would like to thank each of them, I cannot. The reasons are varied and odd. If I thanked some people, others who were forgotten would be offended. That would not be good. Were I to offer thanks to some who have requested anonymity, it could cost them and still other folks their jobs, or subject them to the ridicule of their friends and associates. Many like to read what I say and a great many even agree with my ramblings. However, their praise might not be so swell if they were to discover that they had been the troops to whom I was pointing the barbs of my insults.
As a matter of fact, one correspondent got into trouble just because one of his bosses thought that the commentary sounded like their fire department. I offer my distinct apologies to that man who took the hit because I failed to better hide our relationship. I would hope that his boss would someday awaken to the job that having an actual life can bring.
I want to express my sincere thanks to the thousands of you who have taken the time to put finger to keyboard. You have shared your lives, yourselves, and your stories with me. You have made me feel that I am a part of untold numbers of fire department families out there across North America. It was as though I was privileged to sit at the kitchen table in your fire station, drinking coffee and kibitzing with the troops. As a retired, big-city battalion chief who loved making rounds with the troops within my battalion district, thank you for taking their place in my life.
Let me now take my turn at looking forward. Let me offer some thoughts about what would be nice to see happen in the year 2003. Maybe I am an eternal optimist, but I continue my hunt for a time and place when our politicians, administrators, and chief officers finally get it, when they finally come to an understanding of our true value as a resource in their community.
Each year I continue my search for heroes. I continue searching for that honest man or women who will stand up and tell the story about what fire protection really is, and what it takes to deliver an effective service to the citizens who are paying the tab for their own safety. I may have encountered reports of that person.