As the cool crisp air of an October Sunday morning began to warm into a beautiful sunny day, members of the East Meadow Volunteer Fire Department assembled seven companies strong, in full dress uniform, on the front ramp of Fire Headquarters for their annual memorial service.
In a year far from the norm, the EMFD continued to find ways to carry out the finest of their rich traditions. With no opportunity to march proudly through the streets of East Meadow in honor of our military on Memorial Day, nor the memorial service held each year prior on that morning, nor a formal installation of officers, events at EMFD, as with all of us in our lives, had been put on hold.
But with the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic slowly and very cautiously returning us to a still-restricted and carefully monitored everyday lifestyle, our volunteers took the opportunity to remember the many great members of our organization who passed away in the last year.
With all members spaced for social distance, and wearing masks, First Assistant Chief Paul Kosiba called the membership to attention. Amid all the preparation, planning, and re-written pandemic related policies that has brought our fire department to a new level of care for our community, while taking unprecedented actions to protect themselves, finally a moment for all members to feel something that we can build upon.
Yes, we still have a deep concern. With the arrival of the Flu season, the next few months will likely add to the story, of how much more we may need to endure, and for how long.
But on this morning, Chief of Department James Walsh, whose work for our department and community has been of a strictly business nature, without the fanfare of being properly honored as our highest in command, this day had as much meaning for our chief as anyone in attendance.
Sad as it may be, that his proudest moment to speak before our membership was to honor past members, it was also a privilege to remember them in an official ceremony.
With the presenting of our nation's colors by the EMFD color guard, the laying of wreathes, the singing of our national anthem, the playing of taps, and the white gloved hand salute as the memorial bell was struck to the announcement of each member of the past, it was a tribute ceremony in deed for many deserving and dedicated members.
The ceremony included speeches of inspiration and gratitude from Chief James Walsh and Chairman of the Board James Surless, for the outstanding efforts of our members in the past year.
Our prayer was led by Rabbi Dr Ronald Androphy as the membership removed their hats.
The ceremony also included a moment for Chief Walsh, accompanied by Board Chairman James Surless, to inspect the appearance of each member in perfect formation of social distance, as done in all years past. A moment in time every past EMFD fire chief no doubt vividly remembers.
Our thanks to our membership, our chiefs, board of fire commissioners, and fire district staff, for continuing to move us through this health crisis, and providing our organization with a path of direction as we hopefully make our return to normal living.
In closing, we ask our residents to please continue to wear your masks, follow social distancing guidelines, stay home if you are ill, and avoid any large gathering.
John J. O'Brien is an active Ex Chief of the East Meadow Fire Department. He is the District Supervisor of the Jericho Fire District and has over 40 years of Dispatch and Supervisory experience.