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"Yesterday at noon, on the sixth anniversary of that day that will forever be part of who we are, a small group of family members and rescue workers gathered at the memorial and looked out over the vastness of the Everglades. As we laid flowers, offered up silent prayers and basked in the warmth of each others company each of us was transported back in time. It was a bitter-sweet moment as terrible memories of vibrant lives cut short intertwined with thoughts of happier days before the tragedy. Mother's Day will never be the same for any of us.

As we stood there, the bright sun shining upon us, listening to the wind rustle among the columns of the memorial it occurred to me how, through a cruel twist of fate so many strangers, all but invisible to each other on that day, came to share the rest of eternity. How many deep friendships and lasting relationships have come out of that tragic event? If nothing else, it should remind us that we are all members of the brotherhood of man and each others keepers. We are not masters of our future, but custodians of today. Next time you find yourself in a crowd of "strangers" remember this - offer a smile, a kind word or a helping hand. You never know how quickly and easily your paths, once crossed, may come together.

I lift my prayers that your loved ones may rest in peace knowing that they live on in each of you, and that the Lord should grant you comfort each day as you grieve their loss."

Chief Wili Alvarez, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

Click here to see images from the Everglades Memorial for the Six Year Anniversary.

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    South Florida FM Association, 2003   

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