It's the three rings of the Omega Bell as it peals across the air, a heart rending, yet beautiful sound.
|National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial Service 2006|
Photo by Daphne M. Webb (Daphne Self)
When firefighters rush to a scene, leaving bay doors open and a station empty, it is commonplace to worry and pray. Will they come home?
Pleas and prayers will shoot up to the heavens. The men, and nowadays women, fight to protect people and property. They lay their lives on the line so that others may live. They are beyond brave. Their courage pours from their hearts and souls. Historically, the toll of a bell summoned members to the station, signaled the beginning of a shift, notified departments of a call for help, and the bell is rung three times, indicating a call was completed and the unit had returned to the station.
Today it is used for a different reason. And I've experienced those haunting tones.
When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, after the eulogies, after the service, the bell is brought forth. A solemn quiet, pregnant with emotions barely kept in check, descends. Hushed cries, trembling hands and chins, people clinging to each other for support await in anticipation.
One. My heart is torn.
Two. My sobs are barely quieted.
Three. My soul cries out.
Three rings of the Omega Bell, announcing that the fallen firefighter has arrived home.
Not many people will experience the loss of a firefighter. I lost a part of my soul that day. Even though I have now moved on and remarried, the memory of that bell reminds me that life is so precious and I'm to live it to the fullest every day, for God's glory.
Someday, the haunting sounds of the Omega Bell on earth will be the joyous sounds of an Omega Bell in heaven.
To find out more about the fallen heroes, go to www.firehero.org, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. There you can learn more about Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters.