One week ago today, Prescott, and its surrounding communities, changed forever.
Nineteen families in our extended community were devastated. Heroes who protect us from wildfires were gone. And the tri-city community as a whole suffered as deep a wound as any in its history.
This week ahead, we will lay those lost to rest.
Personnel from fire agencies from across the country will arrive by the hundreds this Tuesday to pay their final respects to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots of the Prescott Fire Department. As a community, we appreciate their support, and the genuine brotherhood in firefighting families everywhere.
Dignitaries from various representative offices will arrive to pay their final respects. Their presence represents those around the U.S. who cannot be here and yet have shared the sense of loss watching this past week from afar, and who truly feel a need to comfort our community directly.
Anyone who has driven around town has spotted impromptu memorials popping up on front lawns, roadways, or in small businesses. And just as we take a collective breath after a week of mourning, our neighbors now face the crushing realities of multiple funeral services in Prescott and surrounding communities. As we all have learned the names, faces, hopes and dreams over the past few days of those gone, our thoughts and heavy hearts are with the surviving family members who will say final goodbyes in the days ahead.
Looking forward is critical in the healing process. Staying strong for those left without fathers, brothers and sons is our best way of honoring men who defined the concept of staying strong while they did what they loved doing in the mountains around us.
We will stay strong always for Brendan McDonough, 21, the lone surviving member of the Hotshot crew from last week. He is surrounded by a community that mourns with him now, and will heal with him in the days, weeks and years to come.
Healing our wounds from Yarnell Hill seems like a long way off. Yet, last week's shock and grief turns to 19 celebrations of life this week.
In Chino Valley and Paulden, we say goodbye to Eric Marsh, Wade Parker, Dustin DeFord and Travis Carter. We mourn with the families of these brave men, and we promise our support in the days to come as they begin to heal from this devastating tragedy.