By Molly Goad
Two days after the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the United States Postal Service dedicated a new stamp design for First Responders in Missoula, Mont., against a beautiful backdrop of blue skies and mountains.
The dedication was held at the Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center, home to the nation’s largest training center for firefighters who parachute into remote areas of national forests to combat wildfires.
The stamp design shows three figures shaded in red, white and blue, respectively: a firefighter carrying an ax, an EMS responder, and a law enforcement officer shining a flashlight.
The dedicating official was Guy Cottrell, chief postal inspector for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
“Our nation’s first responders rush into life-threatening situations for the benefit of others,” he said. "...We call out for their help tens of millions of times each year, and every time they answer the call.
“The Postal Service is pleased to honor their skill, dedication and unfailing bravery with this stamp.”
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Tim Fox, Montana’s attorney general, spoke about the significance of having this ceremony so soon after the Sept. 11 anniversary and reflected on where he was that day 17 years ago.
“This first issue stamp honoring first responders, at its core really honors those who have lost their lives in the line of duty,” he said.
Steve Hirsch, first vice chair of the National Volunteer Fire Council emphasized the importance of local volunteers to the communities across the country. He said the close relationship between the postal service and the volunteer fire service goes back to Ben Franklin, the country’s first postmaster general, and a volunteer firefighter in 1736.
“There’s kind of a love affair there,” he said, smiling. “Me being a stamp collector, too, adds a little bit extra to it as well.”
Other speakers included Leanne Marten, regional forester, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dr. Michael Kremkau, an emergency physician (level two trauma) and a reserve deputy for Missoula County Sheriff Department; and David McEvoy, critical care medic and director of Aerie, a Montana-based organization providing wilderness and rural medical training and first aid supplies to over 2,000 students a year throughout the United States, Mexico, Central America, Africa and India.
Smokey Bear, a national mascot for forest fire prevention, was also in attendance.