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Originally published: 2013-07-08 10:59:39
Last modified: 2013-07-08 10:59:39

Our View: Remembrance of fallen heroes

"Many are called, but few are chosen to be heroes," said Prescott, Ariz., Fire Chief Dan Fraijo at a memorial service for 19 fallen firefighters, including Appalachian State University grad and Ashe County native Eric Marsh.

Marsh and his comrades, all members of an elite firefighting team, Granite Mountain Hotshots, died Sunday battling a massive wildfire in Arizona. To date, media reports indicate that fire has scrubbed more than 13 square miles and burned about 200 structures. 

Most importantly, it is also reported that this disaster resulted in the greatest loss of life among firefighters battling a wildfire in more than eight decades.

Fraijo's words are fitting because they echo Matthew 22:14, "For many are invited, but few are chosen."

And who, given that biblical reference, does not then muster the echo of another verse, this one from John 15: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Marsh, superintendent of that specialized force of firefighters, was not the youngest of the group to lay down his life. He was 43. The youngest, 21. But both of them, and each of the 17 other team members, were heroes, and heroes who died for each other, and for the strangers whose paths they never would have crossed were they not dedicated to placing the preservation of life and home above self.

Marsh is our High Country connection to this horrific tragedy, and our thoughts are with his Ashe County family, and all those who called him friend -- from his days at Ashe Central High School, his years at ASU and the two decades he has spent since, honing his craft far from our mountains.

Fraijo said he feared the worst when he received the call Sunday afternoon. And the worst had happened -- an entire crew had deployed last-ditch efforts at survival, and for 19 of them, those efforts were in vain.

Today, a makeshift memorial of flowers and American flags can be found at the Prescott fire station where the crew was based. 

We add our salute, and our thank you, to these American heroes.