First of all, I am not going to the dictionary to define “brother/sisterhood.
For one thing, it would not adequately capture the essence of the deep feelings of what is the core of brother/sisterhood as it applies to the fire service and I believe that, as a nation of firefighters, we are still defining it.
For over a quarter of a century, I have been studying what exactly it means to be in a brother/sisterhood.
Dylan Thomas, the renowned Welsh poet, wrote an amusing piece about brotherhood. He stated that he built a snowman, his brother knocked it down, he knocked his brother down and then they had tea! A simple but workable description of brotherhood, I believe that it goes deeper.
Does brother/sisterhood only exist in the fire service? If not, then why don’t we hear doctors, nurses, teachers, business executives, politicians or electricians talk about their professions in such terms?
Wait; there IS the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), but is our brother/sisterhood on the same plane as the electricians?
One only has to look at the funerals to know that they are NOT the same.
Yes; the funerals! When we see the videos and photos of the apparatus, the flags, honor guards, the sea of dress uniforms and the bagpipers, it is the epitome of what is the brother/sisterhood. As we struggle to bury one of our own, we are one and the same.
And it would seem that we gather our strength from this very emotional moment in our lives and take it to heart and make it a part of our every day lives. People who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon will often ask why so many of us come from all over the country to say good-bye to a fallen brother/sister that we didn’t even know.
Our answer? Because THAT’S the brother/sisterhood!
How is it, then, that we don’t hear the same pronouncement when a brother/sister “knocks down the snowman”, so to speak? Are we picking and choosing when we invoke it?
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