We heard La Plata County Manager Chuck Stevens at a Durango Chamber of Commerce breakfast last week talking about the 416 Fire. It was a cool, sunny morning. The air was fresh and clear. Stevens, who moved up to the manager role in April, was recalling the heroic efforts of local firefighters in the first, critical days of smoke and flames.
We remembered the words around town, written on car windows, displayed in storefronts, planted in yards – improvised, it always seemed to us, and urgent, like graffiti: “Thank you, firefighters!”
The smoke was a hassle; the fire burned too much, too close; but somehow those signs were a bright spot in the haze. They said, “We’re all together in this, and we’re behind YOU.”
We wondered last week whether we can all come together this way when we are not imminently threatened.
If that were not true, it would be enough to qualify as cynicism. So we decided it could not be true.
It is a little like the Soviet Union. It never believed it was communist. It believed it was socialist, but that it would achieve communism one day (for a long time, it was predicted for 1980). The difference is that, in another June, under clear skies (cross your fingers), we are not kidding ourselves. We know who we are.
We are the people who thanked our firefighters, and if we do not need to be saved again soon, well, that will be OK, too.