You may or may not know that I was a volunteer fireman and emergency medical technician for 7 years back in Kentucky. When you read this poem, you'll know that I know the feelings I mention. I just did a radio interview for Trent Loos' Rural Routes program heard all over the mid-west and he wanted me to read this so I thought I'd post it here as well. On Sep;tember 11th, I've been asked to perform this and Cowboy Up America at a tribute to "First Responders" in Illinois.
Cowboys on Concrete
There are TV shows and movies
about the cowboy way.
And I’ve heard people question
if it’s relevant today.
Does the cowboy code of ethics
really still apply?
Do cowboys help the needy
or like others, pass them by?
Do they stand up for the helpless
and when asked, they volunteer?
Are they brave? Is there compassion?
Do they act despite the fear?
Have you seen a cowboy lately?
Have you really looked around
to see who rides to help you out
when all the chips are down?
Do you recognize the cowboy?
Not the swagger or the hat
but the cowboy way of helping out
when we’re in need of that.
They’re the ones who face down danger
when others run away;
the ones whose life is on the line
protecting us each day.
But, do you know the courage
that it takes to heed the call
and run into a burning building
that could kill them all?
Or the fear they have to swallow
as they make a traffic stop
cause the world is full of crazies
who’d just love to kill a cop.
Have you ever felt as though a target’s
painted on your chest?
Are you haunted by the nagging thought
you didn’t do your best?
Are there memories you just can’t shake
of choices that you had to make
and chances that you had to take
to risk for someone else’s sake?
Do you know the code of silence
they maintain when they go home?
To protect their loved ones from the truth,
they carry it alone.
One wife described it like a dance;
they circle round the fears
and hold each other tightly
to keep away the tears.
And yet, each time the call goes out
that someone is in danger
these heroes saddle up and ride
like modern day Lone Rangers.
Cause there’s another feeling
that they all get to share:
That right now, someone is alive,
a child in danger did survive,
a family won’t be wracked with grief,
the city’s safe from one more thief.
Inside, they all share this belief;
The world is better ‘cause they’re there.
They’re cowboys on the concrete.
When you see one, pray God’s grace
will surround and will protect them
from dangers that they face.
Then thank those first responders.
They do what must be done
and they deserve our gratitude.
So we salute you, everyone.
Jeff Hildebrandt copyright 7/30/2010