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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Visiting Prescott and Honoring the Fallen 19

All summer long I’d been dreaming about a trip with my kids; just the kids and I somewhere in the mountains where it was cool.  I wanted an experience with them where we could just be together, no agenda, no commercialism and no case of the gimmies; just us and nature. 

Throughout the summer I’ve been brainstorming what we could do, but the days were ticking done.  School would be starting in just a few weeks, so one morning on a whim, I decided to a little research.  By noon, the kids and I were packed and headed to Prescott.

The counselor’s parents were in Prescott for a few weeks vacationing in the cool pines.  The kids adore their grandparents, so this was an added bonus.  The drive up was about 2 hours and by lunch time, we were eating under the pines of a local Mexican restaurant. 

That evening, we sat in the beautiful grass of the county courthouse and enjoyed an outdoor concert.  
The kids ran around chasing squirrels and climbing trees.  
We ate ice cream and then checked into our hotel for the night.  So far, the trip was everything I’d been dreaming about.

The next morning, we decided to drive out to Goldwater lake so after breakfast, we all piled into the car.  The drive up the mountain allowed us to see the entire town and we could finally roll the windows of the car down without dying of heat. We were discussing plans for meeting the counselor’s parents later for lunch when just around the mountain turn a barricade of police officers approached us from the other direction.  It was as beautiful as it was upsetting.  What was going on?  I’d never seen so many motorcycle police officers before, all riding side by side in procession.  Behind the police officers were dozens of fire trucks and that’s when I realized we were passing a funeral procession for one of the 19 fallen fire fighters.  My eyes filled with tears and I just started crying.  Chandler grabbed my hand.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.  

Through my tears, I told the kids about the brave men who had been killed in the Yarnell fire just 1 and 1/2 weeks earlier.
I called my in-laws and asked if we could meet them earlier, as Goldwater Lake was closed for the funeral.  It just didn’t seem right for us to be planning a day of fun and play while those who lost loved ones were mourning.  On our way back into town, we drove past the growing memorial for those who had fallen.  My in-laws meet us at the Hot Shots fire station and under rolling thunder clouds we walked the wall.

Once again, tears ran down my checks as I felt the enormous presence of those brave men.  I am so thankful my in-laws were there to answer questions and hold hands with my children.  
The memorial had grown to surround the entire fire station.
My kids all signed their names on this cross.  Eden wanted to draw a rainbow.
It was so spiritual, almost holy.
I was so touched by the thoughtfulness that went into the displays at the memorial.  
A sister wrote a letter to her fallen brother, a friend brought in-and-out burger for his fallen best friend, wives, children, parents, and even strangers left poems, artwork and other displays expressing love.  
One of the poems discussed the battle we fight daily with Satan and how God needed these brave men to help combat the fires of hell in these troubling days.  Many items of 19 were displayed; 19 baseballs for first pitches in heaven, 19 flags, 19 teddy bears, 19 toy fire trucks, etc.
Some personal items were left too; a fallen firefighters snowboard and boots, a pair of gloves and a hat, hatchets and badges; it all brought to life the reality and great sorrow of our loss. 
Because these 19 fire fighters were all our brothers, they were all our sons and husbands and best friends.  I looked around at the beautiful town of Prescott with its surrounding mountains and valleys.  Never before had I realized all this was because of the protections of those who keep forest fires under control.  It would all be gone if someone wasn’t willing to work to keep it preserved.

Firefighters from all over the state were in Prescott not just honoring those who had fallen, but also offering assistance to the community.  I imagine every firefighter in Prescott wanted to attend the funerals of their brothers, but they were still needed to fight fires in the area. I saw firetrucks from Glendale, Nogales, Gilbert,Wilcox and other towns from Arizona.  
I was so grateful to be there with my kids.  They were able to feel and react and wonder about God’s plan for each one of us.  They were able to express gratitude and prayers.  They were able to imagine a world without their dad and feel great sorrow for the children who would no longer have a daddy coming home every day.  They were able to contemplate what it will be like to live with God again.  One of my son’s said maybe he would be a firefighter.  I felt like my children grew up a little that day.
Through out the day, fire trucks and funeral processions continued to travel through the streets and my heart fell in love with the town of Prescott.
For more information on the Yarnell fire, click here.


  1. I grew up in Prescott and graduated from Prescott High with 2 of the fire fighters that were killed. Such a tragedy! Thanks for sharing all the pictures. I wish I could have been there to see funeral procession.

  2. Yes, thanks for sharing the photos. We just bought a winter home in Peoria (NW Valley) so we aren't too far from Prescott. God Bless the families of the firemen who gave their lives for the Yarnell and surrounding towns.