A FIREFIGHTER’S DAUGHTER WRITES: In response to the tumult over the future of firefighting in Leonia, Jessica Ragone wrote to the borough mayor and council:
Mayor & Council,
It’s 11:25 p.m., and as I am writing this letter, my dad has just gone down my driveway in response to an activated fire alarm.
My name Is Jessica Ragone and I have been a resident of Leonia my entire life. Being that I am a college student with a major in teaching, I truthfully could not tell you what exactly the case law states in regards to this whole situation. I could not tell you what this new ordinance means in a legal aspect and I could not tell you in what way this entire thing is legally ridiculous.
But I will tell you what I do know.
If you didn’t attend National Night Out this year, you really missed out. That night I had the pleasure of meeting “Chief for the Day,” Acting [Police] Chief Rowe’s daughter, Sophia. After introducing herself to me, she went on to tell me who her dad was, what he does and how very proud she is of him.
She told me how much she misses him when he’s at work and how excited she is when he comes home, even if it is late.
She then asked me who my dad was and what he does.
Instead of giving her some company name or some job title and description, I told Sophia that my dad is a firefighter.
“Are you proud of your dad? Do you work with him? Are you a firefighter too?” she asked me eagerly.
After telling her that I am not a firefighter, she asked me “Why?”
This 16-year-old girl left me speechless.
How could I explain to her that I simply do not have what it takes to be a firefighter? How do I tell her that I do not have what it takes to risk my life on a daily basis to save others? How do I explain to her that I could not wake up in the middle of the night when the pager goes off, respond to a call that could take hours, and then make it to my full-time job on time and prepared for a days work?
How could I tell her that I would not want to miss out on dinners with my family, miss out on spending time with my friends, missing family parties and holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas because someone burned their turkey in the oven?
How could I tell her that I do not have what it takes to respond to cars on fire, or going into burning buildings to pull people out? (I could not go out in the middle of a storm such as Sandy to protect an entire town from a natural disaster.)
How could I tell her that I would not be able to stay awake for days and days at a time after Sandy to go down the Shore and help victims of the storm who had, in fact, lost everything.
I could have gone on for days about how I just do not have what it takes to do what they do. So, instead, I said: “I don’t know.”
This fire department is filled with many great people. While there may be disagreements, conflicts and situations at hand, please give me one example of a huge family that does not have any of those things.
They all spend holidays together, marked by food and crumb cake for dessert. They help each other through life’s struggles and situations that no man can take on alone.
They share a cup of coffee a few times a week after a long day discussing everyday things, such as how their kids don’t listen or the score of last night’s Yankee game. They share with each other their personal achievements, goals, struggles and even lifetime events such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.
While they are all different, with strong, unique personalities and lives, they all have one thing in common: They all share a love, passion and desire for helping others.
If that isn’t what a family and a community is all about, I don’t know what is.
So to answer Sophia’s initial question: Yes, Sofia, I am extremely proud of my dad, as well as each and every volunteer standing by his side.
A firefighter’s daughter
Jessica Ragone, a Leonia High School graduate, attends Montclair State University