By: Emily Kellas
Last month, the nation faced unspeakable tragedy. We at Reel-2-Reality would like to take a moment to express our deepest condolences to the families of the 26 students and teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT and to the Webster, NY families of the four firefighters injured and killed on Christmas Eve. They will never be forgotten. Their legacy will carry on in the hearts of all they touched. We would like to thank first responders in Newtown, Webster, and across the country for what they do to keep us safe every day.
The tragedy in Webster hits, disturbingly, close to home, because it is home. I have grown up in West Webster my entire life. Living there for the last 22 years, the town and the amazing individuals within it have taught me, and continue to teach me, the value of community. And much like every other community across the United States after the events in Newtown, we thought, that could never happen here. Until Monday December 24,2012.
It happened minutes from my home. Two firefighters shot dead and two injured as they rushed to put out what was thought to be a routine house fire.
I was awoken at 5:30a.m. by the sounds of sirens, not unusual for being so close to Highway 104, but these sirens seemed to keep coming and rang louder than any I had heard before. I went to work. Once there I logged onto my company’s Facebook and Twitter pages only to find Webster all over the news. I had spent the morning unable to concentrate on anything except the reports coming though on social media.
After authorities announced that two firefighters had been killed, and two injured, my mind raced through the list of people I knew were involved with the West Webster Fire Department. It wasn’t until Noon that I received the call. Names I knew. Unable to compose myself I left work early and went home, only to be hit with the full reality of what had happened.
A beloved community leader and a kid I had grown up with were gone in a few brief moments. Families of both the injured and lost were changed forever. My hometown sat stagnant with shock, disbelief, and immense grief.
It’s one of those moments in your life that, even when you’re old and grey, you will be able to recount with specifics where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news. These past few weeks will stick with me for life. The unspeakable love, kindness, strength, and support sent to the Town of Webster, the West Webster Fire Department, and the families of the victims, will remain as a constant reminder of the good in human nature.
With that said, there is a reason, other than an attempt to begin the healing within myself, I wrote this today. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” And it’s that which I ask of you, kindness. In honor of those we lost last month, the staff at Reel-2-Reality encourages all of our readers to perform 28 Acts of Kindness.
Webster and Newtown will never return to “normal,” and I believe they never should. Because returning to “normal” means that nothing has changed, and to truly honor our heroes, change is sorely needed. Whether the acts are small or big show others that there are amazing people in this world who care. We need to learn from the pain and violence of 2012, and begin 2013 in a state of mutual caring and kindness. Because I think we can all agree… we need it.