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Editorial: Debt beyond repayment

People in Rowan County, the Charlotte region ó indeed, the whole country ó have expressed their appreciation for the sacrifices of Justin Monroe and Victor Isler, who died in Friday’s fire at Salisbury Millwork, and showed their sympathy and support for the victims’ families and their fellow firefighters.
Throngs gathered Monday to pay their respects as the two bodies were returned to Salisbury from Charlotte, part of a mournful journey that will conclude Thursday with a joint memorial service for the two men on the Catawba College campus. Condolences continue to stream in to the Salisbury Post’s Web site, where 300 messages had been posted as of Monday evening, along with letters to the editor, some of which are printed elsewhere on this page. Many residents are wearing red ribbons, distributed at fire stations and other locales, in honor of the two firefighters.
The outpouring of grief, sympathy and support is a testament to the courage and commitment of the men who died, but it also bears an unspoken acknowledgment to others ó those who have died previously in the line of duty and the surviving firefighters who will don their firefighting gear and answer the call to duty today, tomorrow and the day after. For them, trial by fire isn’t a figure of speech. It’s part of the job description for those who lay their lives on the line to protect human life and try to limit loss in the event of catastrophe.
What are other ways in which we can show our appreciation?
– Fund: The city of Salisbury and the Salisbury Fire Department have set up funds to aid the Monroe and Isler families. You can get more information at Bank of North Carolina branches or on the city of Salsbury’s Web site (www.salisburync.gov). In the days and weeks ahead, fraternal and civic organizations are likely to organize other fund drives to honor Monroe and Isler, so there were be additional opportunities to make contributions. You can also support the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation (www.ncfff.org).
– Food: You can help the Red Cross provide food for the out-of-town firefighters and state and federal investigation teams at the fire site. To offer assistance, call the Red Cross at 704-633-3854, ext. 106.
– Support: Another way to express support is through your local fire departments. At the time of his death, Justin Monroe had just finished helping to organize a chicken-and-dumplings fundraiser for the Millers Ferry VFD. Because of Friday’s tragedy, that event, scheduled for Saturday, was canceled. But at some point in the future, the department will resume its periodic fundraisers, as will the other volunteer departments across Rowan County. By supporting such endeavors, the community not only helps provide essential financial support for departments that operate on modest budgets; it’s also a tangible way to let these firefighters know they are not taken for granted.
There’s no way to compensate for the loss of these two men. The community will be forever in their debt. But we can honor their memories by supporting the comrades who continue the cause for which Justin Monroe and Victor Isler gave their lives.

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