Justin Beebe was a 26-year-old native of Vermont. He was killed firefighting in Nevada as a first-year member of the elite A day in the life of a firefighter essay Interagency Hotshot Crew. Want to Start a Business? 349: Is This a Date or Not?
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Should You Live Together Before Marriage? Are You A Good Guest? Justin Beebe was a 26-year-old native of Vermont, from the hardscrabble town of Bellows Falls. Nevada as a first-year member of the elite Lolo Interagency Hotshot Crew. I had never met Justin, and did not know him, but first heard the news from the state’s Fire Supervisor, who I had served under.
As a sometimes-wildland-firefighter and resident of VT, I felt a dual kinship. I also have a 26-year-old native Vermonter son who, like Justin, moved west to pursue his dreams, and who has, like Justin did, a girlfriend that he loves. The similarity, another reminder of the fragility of life, gnawed at me. My son Doug was just visiting Vermont from California a week ago. When he left, we said our casual goodbyes at the airport, complacent that we’d see each other at Christmas or in the spring. But hearing of Justin’s death was evidence that nothing in this world is certain, and youth is no insurance against mortality. Out of the desire to honor a comrade, I began contemplating attending Justin’s memorial service.
But you know how these things go — the internal back and forth that accompany this kind of choice: I have no personal connection to this person, it’s an hour and a half drive, there will be plenty of other firefighters there, the grass needs mowing. Is a desire to go, well, weird? Ultimately though, I decided to go. The high school auditorium was packed, airless, and stifling hot, with the overflow crowd in the adjacent gymnasium. Justin’s family occupied the front and center rows, with a dozen or so of the Montana-based hotshot crew to the front and side. We other 30 or 40 wildland firefighters from four states and several Federal Agencies walked in single file and took seats behind the Lolo crew.