Lake City firefighter receives Quilt of Valor
Lt. Terry Fitzgerald arrived at the Lake City Fire Department for a regular meeting/training Wednesday evening and was surprised when several members of his family arrived. He had no idea he was about to be honored with a presentation of a Quilt of Valor.
The quilt was even more special because it was hand-made and presented by his mother, Shirley Long. In addition to the quilt, she presented the Lake City Fire Department with a framed plaque with a poem she had written years ago entitled “The Firefighter." She also presented her son with a copy of the framed poem she had personalized for him.
Lt. Fitzgerald, a member of the Lake City Fire Department and Rescue Team, has a total of 22 years service as a firefighter, joining the Lake City Fire Department five years ago. He served on the Harrisburg Fire Department before coming to Lake City.
Mrs. Long praised the men and women of the Lake City Volunteer Fire Department.
“I wish I could do this for each one of you,” she said. “The quilt stands for bravery and courage. You all do a great job. You are among the heroes, and I know the city of Lake City appreciates all you do. This is a great honor for me to present this quilt to my son.”
Words on the quilt expressed Mrs. Long's feelings, “In honor of Lt. Terry Fitzgerald, Lake City Fire Rescue, A hero freely gives so others will live.”
Fitzgerald said he grew up wanting to be a firefighter.
“In 1980, when I was seven years old, our house burned to the ground,” he said. “We were not home and neighbors called the fire department, but they did not come.”
He was young but he remembers he was left with the pair of shorts he was wearing.
“I am proud to be part of the Lake City Fire Department,” he said. “We have great leadership, the men and women continuously train. When a call comes in, whether it is a fire or a rescue, someone is responding within minutes. We have firefighters who have served 40 years. We are a team and we work together for our community.”
Fitzgerald is grateful and gives God the credit for anything he has been able to do as a firefighter.
“I am not here to take credit,” he said. “We (all of the Lake City firefighters and rescue) do what we do to help others. We are not the only ones involved in being a firefighter. Our families are involved also and it is a humble feeling to be honored by them. Our department is like a second family to all of us. We are a team at the Lake City Fire Department. I am honored to be able to be a part of it. We don't do this for the money or for praise. We are here because we care.”
The framed poems by Mrs. Long, The Firefighter, Lake City Fire Department and The Firefighter Lt. Terry Fitzgerald, were presented. She changed the last line to personalize the poem for Lt. Fitzgerald.
Lake City Fire Department
Deep in the night a fire bell rings
God only knows the trouble it brings.
Another call of a fire across town,
It's up to the fireman to bring it down.
He bravely lays his life on the line
As he prays he can make it in time.
With sirens blaring through the midnight air
He finds the fire raging there.
He pulls someone to safety,
As his life is on the line.
Because no one is ever left behind.
You are our heros. Believe this is true,
The City of Lake City
Is very proud of you.