A Tip of the Helmet – Literally

South of San Francisco, as the funeral procession for Vince Perez and Tony Valerio weaved along, countless thousands of people took time out of their day to say goodbye.

I recently posted a video of the procession, but a video making the rounds on facebook stopped me dead in my tracks and made me cry like a…well…six year old.

It is another video of the funeral procession, but has a very important story to tell all it’s own.

I’m sure this young man’s parents had no idea they would be inspiring those who had lost a lot of momentum in life, just shooting some video to remember how their son reacted to a firefighter’s funeral. How did he react?

Well, he got his coat and helmet and stood at attention and saluted the engines as they passed by.

My brother from another mother, MotorCop, messaged me soon after sharing it and told me we needed to reach out to whoever posted the video and let them know what an impact it was having. So we did. And we heard back today:

Hello MC & Justin,

Thank you so much for your comments on my Youtube video of the SFFD funeral procession with the little boy & for reaching out to us. That is such a thoughtful and generous thing you would like to do but I have to tell you, his father (my husband) is a firefighter who was on a post that day and I am a police officer and the little boy is our son. We felt it would be a learning experience for him to be a part of the funeral and to understand what those men sacrificed for people they didn’t even know. We wanted him to pay his respects, to experience the brotherhood, love and support for those real life heroes and their families. He is six years old and aspires to be a firefighter, then he wants to be on “mom’s team”and aspires to be a police officer then a medic on the ambulance so he can save and help people. Of course, we would be thrilled and honored with either.

We were equally moved by the overwhelming number of firefighters who saluted and waved at our son as well as the family members of the fallen firefighters who opened their windows to smile and take a photo. To know for that moment they were able to divert their thoughts away from their grief and feel the love, support and admiration we all have for their loved ones, is why we were there. To honor and support the fallen firefighters, their families and extended families of first responders.

We thank you all for your dedicated service and for reaching out to us. Words cannot express our sympathies and sadness for the San Francisco Fire Department and the families of the fallen firefighters. Thank you ALL!!!!!

No. No, thank you. I was having a hell of a time coming to terms with what has happened recently. Suddenly my thoughts would shift to how Vince and Tony died and I’d be frozen, unable to speak, unable to feel, unable to express myself.
The video of the procession gave me some closure, but then I saw this.

And I felt better.

I saw the honor you have taught your son, and at a young age to understand it and stay waving that flag, salute never wavering…
I saw myself to be honest, and I’d imagine MC did too. Both our fathers were firemen and I’m sure he felt the same connection to this young man that I did.

They say some children have a wisdom beyond their years and it is seldom by accident or by chance. No, this child is an inspiration because he is more respectful than half the adults I know and that is a direct reflection on the quality parenting he is receiving.

I, like MC, wish more people took the time to share with their children the importance of family, honor and tradition.

I was ready to make this young man an honorary San Francisco FireFighter, but there is no need. Not only because of his family being already in the business, but because he already is. I’m sure that was handled by Vince and Tony on Friday.

9 thoughts on “A Tip of the Helmet – Literally”

  1. I didn’t think the video was going to make me tear up… but it took every ounce of strength not to break down. Tragic loss for emergency personnel around the world. 

  2. Raising one’s sons & daughters to display noble pride in Service remains one of life’s most honorable endeavors. May each step we take lead the way to peace.

  3. Raising one’s sons & daughters to display noble pride in Service remains one of life’s most honorable endeavors. May each step we take lead the way to peace.

  4. I have to admit, I did not watch the video. I know I will cry.

    Having been where you are Brother, I know how hard it is and I am glad this young man lifted your, and others, spirits in the midst of the pain of the day.

    “Not for fame or reward, not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or glared by necessity, but in simple obedience to duty as they understood it, these men suffered, sacrificed, dared all and died. We shall never forget our fallen friends.”

  5. An amazing awe inspiring young man with obviously some amazing parents . I watched this video and cried like I haven’t cried since I lost my Dad. Just absolutely tugs at the heart strings and says so much !!!!!
    *salutes* to him and his parents 

  6. I’m so sorry you and the SFFD are in such pain.
    I too cried when I watched this.  Thank you for sharing it.

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