Sunday, July 7, 2013

Prescott Rodeo Parade and Remembering the Granite Mountain 19 Hotshots

Way back in February, I bought tickets to attend two rodeo's. One in Payson and one in Prescott. I thought my niece would enjoy them. Although I have been to Prescott many times for various functions, I had never gone to the fourth of July festivities. I was always afraid of the crowds etc. The parade was on July 6th this year, so we got rodeo tickets for that afternoon.
Then we had the horrible tragedy of June 30, losing 19 firefighters in the Yarnell Hill Fire. I have felt so sad over it. I have had a hard time not getting very teary whenever I talk about it. I can't imagine the pain and grief for the families, fellow firefighters, community, etc. I talked to one of the ER charge nurses at the hospital in Prescott. He told me he knew each one of these young men. He said they had been all set up to take care of them and how much they had wanted to help, and they didn't get to help even one.
Then seeing the caravan of white vans coming to Phoenix and taking them to the medical examiner's office. Seeing the people line the roads. The firefighter's and ladder trucks honoring them as they went by.
I wasn't sure what the Prescott parade and rodeo was going to be like with all that going on. In many ways, it was a giant memorial for them. And at the same time, an innocent expression of joy for our country and the fourth of July. Almost everyone had a black armband, t shirt or purple ribbon. There were banners with their names, riderless horse's, 29 flags.  Time and again we got to stand to honor their memory. There were a couple of things in the parade that were especially poignant for me.  Above is one of them. For some reason the forest service firefighting trucks and smokey the bear, really got to me. The people inside were very sober.

 The parade started with a riderless horse, boots backward and firefighting equipment on it. While that was touching. What got to me even more, was when Matt's Saloon, brought through  19 riderless horses. Each one had the name of one of the fallen firefighters on it. The sheer number of them, was devastating. They just kept coming and coming. It was very quiet as everyone stood to honor them, with some clapping.
There was usual parade things, military units, but it was more solemn than usual.

 I loved this little girl's sheer joy at being in the parade. She enthusiastically waved at everyone.

 These little beauties were dressed in patriotic finery. They were just too cute.
 This firetruck had some of the family and friends of the fallen on it.
 There were lots of beautiful horses in the parade.

 I always love the bagpipes and drums.
 Cowboys, more beautiful horses and Freedom Freddy.

 Beauty queens young and old.
 This paint Tennessee Walking horse was 17 hands tall! Huge.
 Every law enforcement, public service group, firefighter, had black mourning stripes on their badges.
 Black arm bands everywhere.
 Beautiful vintage firefighting equipment with a magnificent horse.
 Fun minature horse and dog cart.
 Great looking mule team.

 One of many displays of 19 half mast flags.

 Smokey the bear had never made me sad before.
We bought these shirts from a group that was giving money to the families. I was glad to feel like we were supporting them. I am glad we went. I felt like I was able to participate in mourning these men.

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