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Sat, Oct. 19

Editorial: Fallen 19 honored today; memories live on

A motorcycle escort leads 19 hearses into Prescott Sunday, bringing the men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots back home. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier file)

A motorcycle escort leads 19 hearses into Prescott Sunday, bringing the men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots back home. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier file)

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the tragedy that claimed the lives of 19 of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

For them, the bells will sound again today.

While the aftermath of this misfortune – centered in the early days of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire – mirrors so many other disasters, the Greater Prescott community’s reaction has been slightly different.

Hardships like these have happened before, though not to nearly an entire crew. Firefighters have been lost not only in Colorado and California, but back East as well. When it occurs, the community unites, donations pour in, media swarm, heartfelt memorials are held, and foundations are formed to prevent similar catastrophes.

However, ours is more permanent.

No matter the person’s feelings on ancillary topics, it is hard to find someone here who has forgotten the sacrifice of these brave men.

Certainly, there have been moments of strife — fights for benefits, who received what, where their buggies ended up, where they are buried, and more. There has even been shortsightedness, yet it has been balanced with compassion.

Over the years, all of those things have gone by the wayside. What lives on are the memories of the fine men who died in a wildfire, working to protect a nearby community.

They were sons and brothers, and some were husbands and fathers.

They have been memorialized in Yarnell, by Hollywood in “Only the Brave”, and numerous organizations have been started to help those who follow them into service. And more tributes are to come — including a memorial on the courthouse plaza in downtown Prescott.

Still, their stories remain. What they did within our community before that fateful day, the children they raised, and the challenges they faced.

It is similar to when a family loses one of its own to a sudden accident; the pain may dull for the survivors though sometimes never fully going away, but the memory of those lost endures.

This is where we shine as a community.

The bells will toll at 4:42 p.m. today — on the south side of the courthouse plaza in downtown Prescott and in Yarnell to the west — again honoring the fallen 19.

“No matter what happens, no matter what’s going on, stay together and look out for each other, because we’re a family,” actor Josh Brolin, portraying the Hotshots superintendent, Eric Marsh, says in “Only the Brave”.

That is what we do.

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