Spectrum editor: I was honored as a hero, but ‘we all contribute something’
The hot pink and orange colors of the sunset have melted into twilight.
It’s the close of another day and soon I can climb into bed and relax, rest from putting out another edition of The Spectrum and helping the kids with remote learning.
An unusual noise — a heavier, louder sound — outside draws my attention. I peek out the front window.
A beautiful, bright-red fire truck is parked at the edge of my front yard.
It’s Water Witch Hose Co. #2’s Tower 25 from New Milford.
There’s no fire, not at my house or anywhere on the street.
The 100-foot, white ladder rest flat atop the truck. Shiny silver compartments glisten.
A masked firefighter hops out and sets up a large “Thank You” sign alongside the truck, and makes his way across the grass, stopping about six feet from my front steps.
It’s just before 8 p.m., the time the fire department rings its historic bell in front of the firehouse, a nightly tradition since orders to remain at home were put in place in March.
I recognize Dwayne Acton, a longtime member of Water Witch and a past chief, as I step onto the porch.
My daughter opens her window and listens.
Shocked and puzzled at the unexpected visit, he informs me the fire department is honoring local heroes — those in the community who contribute to the town in one way or another — and tonight they are honoring me.
My humbled heart leaps. I’m honored and recognize the twist of irony.
It is now — with our lives upside down, with orders to quarantine and maintain social distance from one another to slow the spread of the coronavirus — that the world is honoring, as we should be, those on the front lines who face the threat each and every minute of the day.
The health care workers and emergency crews, including firefighters, police, ambulance and other essential workers, are out there every day putting their lives at risk and they deserve the utmost recognition.
Dwayne continues on, sharing words of acknowledgment and gratitude, thanking me for being a resident of this community, for being a mother, for serving as editor of The Spectrum and keeping the community informed about the happenings of the town.
He recognizes me for serving the town through my professional role, where I have shared stories of joys and sorrows and everything in between for the past 22 years.
He reflects on how my words, especially in my columns, have touched his life and the lives of others because “they’re from the heart.”
And tonight, he is going to ring the bell on the fire truck in my honor.
For once, I am near speechless. I want to cry but hold my composure.
Dwayne heads to the front of the truck and rings the bell. With my family at my side in the front yard, we listen with pride and hearts full of emotion as the shiny silver bell sings nineteen times.
It’s the most beautiful sound and the most special gift.
This is the community in which we live, one in which we care for and love one another, and recognize the greatness of every individual who makes up this beautiful town.
I am just one person and feel no more deserving of the honor of having the bell rung in my honor than my neighbor, the cashier at the grocery store, the nurse in ICU or the postal carrier.
However, with humility, tonight I accept the honor as a thank you for what I contribute while impressing upon my children that it is together, as a community, we thrive.
We all contribute something.
We are friends encouraging friends, neighbors supporting neighbors, strangers helping strangers.
While May 12 is my night to be thanked and honored, we all deserve that recognition, especially now.
We’ve all taken on new roles and responsibilities, while doing our best to maintain some semblance of normalcy during a time that is anything but normal.
Each night we lay our head on our pillow and know what we will face tomorrow: Another day where the unseen enemy of coronavirus infects and takes the lives of more people not just in our community, but across the globe.
And yet when morning comes, we squint back the bright light of sunlight peeking in through our window, fold back the covers, sit up with a restorative stretch, swing our legs over the edge of the bed, and rise.
We rise to face the day and what it brings us.
We all have something to give.
Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The New Milford Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.