Editorial: Prayers sound pretty good after Monday tragedy

Published 11:06 am Thursday, April 21, 2022

“We’re sending up … our thoughts and our prayers.”

Singer/songwriter Todd Snider didn’t coin that phrase, but he did use it in a song, making fun of officials who, in the wake of a disaster, offer nothing more than “thoughts and prayers.”

It deserves making fun of when those officials could do more to stop a tragedy or help after a tragedy, but rather choose to wait for something bad and then offer nothing more than their “thoughts and prayers.”

There’s a time for both.

Right now, in times like these, prayers are what is needed the most. Especially among those of us who believe.

We can worry about how to prevent it from happening again tomorrow. We can worry about hiring more firefighters tomorrow. We can worry about buying a new fire truck tomorrow. We can worry about new EMS stations tomorrow. We can always worry more tomorrow.

Today, let’s just pray.

The tragedy Monday afternoon near Cooleemee brings it home. Four people are dead. Two are young children. All were found inside of a burning home just off Junction Road.

It’s more tragedy at once than any of us would like to think about. Imagine the heartache the remaining family members feel. Imagine the devastation to their world, especially with the loss of those little ones.

We want to do something to help. We have to do something to help. Right now, a prayer sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

And for our firefighters – most of whom are still volunteers – who went through that home on Monday afternoon: God bless you.

These men and women are real heroes, and right now, they’re paying the cost. They were the first ones to enter the smoke- and fire-filled home. The brick walls held it all in pretty well, but it didn’t take long for their training to set in. The flames were extinguishes within minutes.

And then their worst nightmare came to life.

These heroes were the first ones to spot a body. Then another. Then another. Then another.

And they still had important jobs to do. Like searching for more bodies – or hopefully – finding a survivor. The latter never came true. But they tried.

It takes special people for jobs like this, whether volunteer or paid. They see things that can change you for life. They see things they can’t get out of their heads.

Yet they persevere.

I’m sure many of them held their own children a little tighter that night. I suspect more “I love you’s” were thrown around than normal.

In times like these, we realize what is really important.

We don’t know the details that led to Monday’s tragedy, and right now, they really don’t matter. That’s tomorrow’s news.

What matters now is that we stay together as a community. What matters now is that we support each other. What matters now is that we recognize that every life of everyone we know is precious – and hanging by a thread.

If you love someone, tell them so.

If you appreciate your emergency workers, tell them so.

And if you care – and if you believe – say a prayer.

– Mike Barnhardt