It has been an exhausting week, but my exhaustion can’t even compare to what the families of two local firefighters have dealt with. Both volunteer firefighters from Rocky Mount were on their way to a house fire when their engine flipped killing them both.
After a week full of coverage, Fire Chief Posey Dillion and Danny Altice were buried Friday (7/30). As a reporter there are so many emotions that are associated with these stories. First, you’ve got to call the families. Will you all talk? Will you share memories of your loved ones? Then, the funeral homes and churches? Are we going to be allowed inside the services? It something that I truly had to pray about all week because even I admit, while I try to approach these phone calls in the most sympathetic way…I still feel like the villan. Oh, and don’t forget about after the funeral. In my case, I went up to people – mic in hand – asking: What do you think Posey would have thought? Would he have approved? Talk about intruding…I know I know! Thick skin or not, it’s one of the hardest parts of the job. Thankfully everyone I approached was so understanding and gracious. I haven’t gotten cursed out yet.
In yesterday’s case, both families let us inside (camera’s rolling) the funeral services. But what was amazing was what happened before the services. Firefighters, and emergency crews from across Virginia truly showed their bond. The procession was beautiful as emergency vehicles (maybe 100-150 them) drove into the first church. And then to see the men and women in uniform file in to the church, WOW what camaraderie.
I have covered funerals before, but never a showing like this. Nothing will humble you like a funeral. It reminds you, we are not put on earth to stay and the one thing I keep thinking is: When these men boarded that fire truck the time clock on their lives was running out each second.
Life isn’t easy but it is precious and when it’s gone there are no do-overs. Thank You Mr. Dillion and Mr. Altice for your sacrifice.