Bronze and pottery. These are the traditional gifts to commemorate an eighth anniversary. They’re symbolic of the creation of something tougher; pottery from clay and Bronze from iron and copper. Nothing, of course, can bring back the 19 brave men lost here on June 30, 2013, but our town has grown stronger even as we’ve lost our innocence.
The Yarnell Area Resource Group (YARG) asked that I photograph the plaques commemorating each fallen firefighter on the trail at Granite Mountain hotshot Memorial State Park. They used the images in the remembrance concert today. It’s June, of course, so I was up at 4:00 yesterday to I could hit the trail before sunrise. It’s a great hike, and I’m up there a lot. It can be easy to forget the losses honored here, but this trip was a homage for me, stopping at each plaque to contemplate each man for a moment. It was less acute than my first homage, photographing the coaches carrying remains from Phoenix back to Yavapai County, but no less heartfelt.
We’re still grateful here, and still mourning. We still think of life in two parts, “before” and “after.” Frequently the fire is still what we’re known for.
Monday there was a surprise for Frances Lechner, a truly tireless local volunteer. Frances was met at the new park by AZ CBS 5 news with the “Pay it Forward Award,” a $500 prize for extraordinary volunteerism. Frances has worked in many areas in town, including the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group immediately after the fire, as well as the Community Garden, Regional Community Center, and Fire Auxiliary. Many friends were there to witness her recognition. The story is here.
For the eighth year, the names of the fallen were read by Lew and Marcie Theokas, whose grandson was lost that day. A bell was rung after each name. The slow and orderly listing brings to mind my walk on the trail yesterday, past the 19 plaques in turn, and of what a large number 19 is.
Bronze and pottery.
A few more of my posts about the fire are here: