Special to The Quad-Cities Daily by Quinton Hanson
Many of my friends do not realize that at one time, about 30 years ago, I was a volunteer firefighter. As a result of my volunteering I developed many friends; some of which are friends even today. I have always held the work of all first responders, whether it be fire fighters, law enforcement officers, or emergency medical responders, in high regard. I am sure it is because of the volunteer work that I did during those years. We all had to depend on each other whether it was a fire, accident, or natural disaster.
A call went out in recent days that is one of the most difficult calls a firefighter can receive. It involved a fire at the home of a fellow firefighter in Anderson AL, a community located near my home town of Lexington in eastern Lauderdale County. The tragedy is worsened by the fact that the fire took the life of that firefighter when she re-entered her home to retrieve her grandchild from certain death. She was able to safely hand her grandchild out of the home but that one selfless act ended up costing Beth Childers her life and cost her family a loving daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother. She was overcome by the fire and unable to save her own life, nor was anyone else able to save her. Tragic? Yes, it was tragic. Tragic beyond words.
The funeral service of Beth was a fitting tribute to the true hero she was and it was apparent that she was loved by hundreds and respected by thousands. Her flag draped casket was guarded by the honor guards of fire departments all around the area during the visitation and funeral. Representatives of first responder groups from all over were present for the funeral, most bringing a representative vehicle of their department. These vehicles were in the funeral procession. Two ladder trucks suspended an American Flag across the entrance to the parking lot of the church where the funeral took place. A truck from the Anderson Fire Department provided the transportation for Beth on her last ride to her final resting place. As the funeral procession left the church in route to the cemetery the typical impatience of oncoming traffic was not present. Every vehicle in opposing traffic came to an immediate stop. I’m sure that when the procession became visible, the people in the oncoming traffic knew that this was the funeral of someone special.
What a wonderful illustration of love by Beth Childers by her actions. What a wonderful demonstration of respect by the first responders present at the visitation and funeral by their actions. As the bagpipes played amazing grace at the end of the service there was a dispatch call that went out over the sound system of the church for Anderson 22, Beth’s badge number, Then the call was made the second time and a third time. There was no reply by Anderson 22. A call was then put out to Anderson 1 to report that Anderson 22 had not responded. Anderson 1’s reply to dispatch…”dispatch, Anderson 22 is no longer available for service.”
My prayer, and I hope yours, is that God will provide comfort to the Childers family and the community of Anderson during this time of mourning that can only be explained as the presence of God. I also pray that the healing process can begin for the family as they enter this new phase of their life without her.