As today’s Firefighters and Rescue profession grapple with the pandemic and civil unrest, there is a realization of being on the battlefield in the stationhouses and in the field. We are confronted by conflagrations within and without. At times, we get
tunnel vision and lose sight of the tremendous sacrifice of our family and loved ones. Many of them make it possible for us to navigate through various hazardous conditions. I’m sure you will agree they do not get enough acknowledgement or
recognition for assisting us in doing what we’re blessed to do.
I can only imagine what “Mrs. Marvella” as the wife and daughter Carla experienced while Dr. Holmes was the Assistant Chief of Oklahoma City and then began traveling the country, teaching innovative leadership styles to those who would listen. I am
also compelled to empathize with the wives and children of the first two Presidents of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPFF), David J. Floyd (New York City) and Charles Hendricks (Philadelphia). “First Ladies” Mrs.
Quennie Floyd and Mrs. Ethel Hendricks are still living, vibrant and continue to “Keep the Fires Burning for Justice!” What a blessing it is to give them our “literary flowers” while they can read them. I humbly write on behalf of the EDI Board of Directors, the Staff, the volunteers and Student Body. I thank Chief Dave Washington, Chairman Dave Harris of the Black Chief Officers Committee and IABPFF President Carrie Edwards-Clemmons for their continued support as well as their herculean efforts of carrying the legacy of their predecessors. What about the extreme sacrifice of their nuclear and extended families? Almost immeasurable!
I can’t help but to think about the recent transitions of Brother Leroy Norwood (Former Southeast Region Director/ EDI Director of Logistics); the wife of Brother William Ward (Transportation), Mrs. Brenda Ward and the two deaths of loss personnel to Chief John Alston, Jr. of New Haven, CT.- May God be pleased with all of the deceased in this writing. After listening to the pain of many who have just lost someone dear, most times it leaves you at a lost for words when trying to provide comfort.
However in time, it is usually our families that help us to know that even though it may seem like a dark day, the Sun still exists above the clouds! We must always remember that and salute our loved ones for being there for us. I will never forget the deaths of our children to fratricide and how it impacted their parents. Sister Sandy Smith (Washington, DC), Brother Harold Wright (Cincinnati) and Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt (Chicago) all lost their sons to gun violence within a year or so and didn’t know of each other’s tragedy. My mission was to link them as a support group. I thought it was critically important to have them lean on each other as a post incident stress technique and for healing. Realizing how sensitive the circumstance, I am thankful they were amenable to the idea.
In times like these, there are family members we’re aware of and then there is family that may appear out of what seems like nowhere. Never forget acknowledgement of family helps us to get balance eventually, by God’s grace and mercy.
Believe it or not, some people sacrifice their lives so we may live. I became the President of the Vulcan Society of Westchester (NY) as a result of an unfortunate car/bicycle accident that took the life of Lt. Ronald Sanders in 1991. My wonderful wife lost her Brother, Warren Ogburn, Line of Duty Death (LODD) in 1993. As a family we attended the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) weekend in Emmitsburg, MD. The acknowledgement of the ultimate sacrifice, the support of
counseling professionals and other families with similar experiences, positively impacted my Mother-in-Law Juanita Rice (now 92 yrs. old). So much so, that she wanted to return 10 years later to help other families as she was helped. That weekend I ran into Chief Sherman George (St. Louis) who I could immediately see the empathy in his eyes. What he was about to tell me was eye opening for my understanding acknowledgement of sacrifice. He said, “I’ve experienced LODD at various times of my career, but never as THE Chief. To have to inform the families of LODD; there is really no training for it.” Then there was Chief Eddie Stevenson Muhammad (Mt. Vernon, NY) who credits EDI for learning techniques and procedures, as he had to perform the same task for a colleague and friend of ours, Brother Kevin Townes in 2011. The weight you can imagine is heavy, yet the
acknowledgement of sacrifice lessens the load. Life is only going to give us as much as we can bear and no burden beyond our scope. As I too have lost my first- born son, Dion JaMaal, I am convinced of his sacrifice and I live as a result of all of the
This is my salute to honor those family members who allow us to do what we are passionate about doing. My wife, Sharon had a husband and two brothers in the Fire Service. My sons had a father and two uncles on the battlefield at the same time. One
of their uncles is no longer physically here, yet his ultimate sacrifice will always live as long as the sweetness of his life lingers in their memory. My granddaughters are sacrificing without even knowing it. As we think about the history and significance
of Memorial Day and the 100th year commemoration of the Tulsa Race Massacre, there have been countless numbers of those whose sacrifice we could acknowledge.
Today, we at the Dr. Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute desire to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldier/scholars to the list that have played great roles in our establishment and continuation. Lest we forget Chief Robert Demmons and his son (San Francisco); Assistant Chief Hershal Clady and his wife Linda; Chief Daryl Osby (Los Angeles County) and the loss of firefighters in his organization. I am sure you can reflect on names as well. I pray this message inspires you to love and
acknowledge the sacrifice of your family. The impact it will have is immeasurable!
“All that I am, I owe, I live eternally in the red!” (3X)
As Salaam Alaikum (Peace be unto you)!
Brother Yusef Muhammad (retired Lt./White Plains, NY) is an Instructor at EDI;
the 8 th President of the IABPFF and the co-host of a blogtalk radio program
“Disaster Awareness for Community Preparedness”.