Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Honor Revealed

Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it - multiple sources.

Christmas Eve 2012, in the wee hours of the morning. West Webster (NY) volunteer firefighters Mike "Chip" Chiapperini, Tomasz Kaczowka, Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hoftsetter responded to a structure fire. Lying in wait, a gunman shot them. Chiapperini and Kaczowka were killed. Scardino and Hoftsetter suffered serious, life-threatening wounds. Off duty Greece police officer John Ritter was also wounded when he intervened. Eventually, the murderer took his own life.

Several thousand firefighters and police officers made the trip to the Rochester area to attend the services. Winter in Western New York intervened, with temperatures in the teens, fresh snow falling. Undeterred, the men and women arrived.

The unspeakable loss of two public servants, volunteers ambushed by a madman.... A community's heart ripped by the inexplicable loss of its best citizens. Beaten, overwhelmed, a society in decline? From Facebook "Prayers and Support for Webster Firefighters":

"I am firefighter from Fleming NY, me and three other members attend the funeral today. I wanted to thank the family that brought our dinner at Red Robin today. It made me feel proud to be a fire fighter. You have a strong community that you should be very proud of it! Thank you! Kristine Murphy-Clark."

"Went out to Uno's to support our fallen and injured brothers and were very surprised to learn that our bill had be taken care of by the young couple across the way. Thank you to the Buffalo Bills fan that paid for our meal!"

"Random Act of Kindness: Worked last night at Eddie O'Brien's last night and there were about 25 firemen in from the Horseheads/Elmira area eating dinner. They had come from the Webster Memorial for the two fallen from early Christmas Eve. A customer asked me if she could round up people ...in the restaurant, table by table, and have them all clap for the firefighters and EMT's who were in the restaurant. Well, mission accomplished- it was a small gesture but a moving tribute and testament of gratitude. Honored to have been a participating witness to a small, but resonating, random act of kindness. Thank you to "the lady in booth # 2."

"I'd like to thank whoever paid for the Tim Horton's the other day, I went for coffee the other and I went to pay for my coffee the manager told me that a unknown person had paid for every ems firefighter and police officer and it was on her and I think that's simply amazing thank you whoever you are."

"Myself and a small group of fellow firefighters that made the trip up to Webster from West Sayville arrived safely back on Long Island earlier tonight. I cannot express how gracious, hospitable and compassionate those that we encountered were towards us. As we made our way to Webster after a 9 hour drive in the snow (and making a stop to assist the driver who jack knifed his... tractor trailer on I-80), we were not expecting to stay overnight. As the weather worsened, we received word that rooms were paid for by anonymous donors and waiting for us to arrive."

The FB page goes on and on. Selflessness, small gestures and emotional moments of remembrance. What was revealed?

Good men and women still band together. They give from their hearts, they reach out to each other in times of need. On a cold and snowy winter weekend Webster revealed the community it has always been - gracious, close-knit and thankful for their own first responders as well as the multitude who flocked to pay their respects.

Honorable, everyone.


  1. Thank you, Tracie - I just reported what other people had observed.