Frank Maguire
American men, true, who chose the road of love, loyalty, and dedication to duty and neighbor
By Frank Maguire
July 8, 2013

"This is courage in a man/to bear unflinchingly what heaven sends." Euripides (422 B.C.)

"Courage does not always march to the air of a bugle: is not always wrought out of the fabric ostentation wears." Francis Rodman "For a Six Year Old," New York Times (May 13, 1961)
    The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.
There is definitely a mood of trepidation in our nation. If not of outright despair then at least of confusion and futility as each day we search for someone who is willing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead we find the utilitarian-pragmatist descendants of Pontius Pilate, who answer "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38)

But what we are watching right now in Yarnell, Arizona is, midst a transcendent tragedy, a remarkable statement by real men and women of honor that in America there is, still, Truth. Sadly, 19 brave men, battling unpredictable Nature, protecting one another as real warriors do, and performing their duty for the citizens they promised to serve, died.

And, at this very moment, amidst the tears of the families of the 19, and the fears of their own families, over 700 Americans Tried and True and found worthy still engage the fiery rage of fickle Nature.
    A Man's a Man for 'A That by Robert Burns

    A price can mak a belted knight,
    A marquise, duke, an' a' that;
    But an honest man's aboon (beyond, above) his might,
    Gude faith, he maunna (persists for honesty) fa' that!
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    Their dignities an' a' that,
    The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
    Are higher rank than a' that.

    Then let us pray that come it may,\

    (As come it will for a' that,)
    That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
    Shall bear the gree (the degree), an' a' that.
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    That man to man, the world o'er,
    Shall brithers be for a' that.
"When there is no God to Whom we answer, lesser men will have their price." fm (c. 1995)

My wife Helen and I will be away on a number of occasions starting July 6. First we'll go to Prescott, AZ, just north of Yarnell, where we'll spend a week. Helen's cousin Carmen lives in Yarnell; the flames were "100 yards from the house" when she and her husband were evacuated.

Con el favor de Dios – by God's favor – Carmen and her husband were saved, and, incredibly, by the skill and determination of the firefighters, so was their home. Carmen told Helen "It didn't even smell of smoke."

Tomorrow, Sunday July 7, a funeral procession with 19 hearses will leave Phoenix and head north to Prescott. On Tuesday, the 9th, the memorial service will be held for those who, to paraphrase Robert Frost, shall be spoken of with a sigh, for ages and ages hence.

I do hope to attend the memorial service, though I know there will be thousands hoping to do the same. But, we will be there in the numbers.

I am going to make the effort during our week in Prescott/Yarnell to interview Fire Department personnel, city, county, and state officials, and the local media. One firefighter interviewed by the national media said that he had never experienced a fire that moved with such speed.

We are in Arizona's monsoon season when air-pressure differentials pull-in moisture and high winds from the Gulf of Baja and the Gulf of Mexico. It is a very dangerous time for fire potential. During an electrical storm, thousands of lightning strokes flash into dry trees and brush.

Also, Yarnell, with an altitude of almost one mile, is placed between rising hills on its east, and the edge of the descent into the desert on the west. Strong, very dry winds from the west are accelerated through and beyond Yarnell.

The investigation as to why the 19 young firefighters were trapped is in process. I hope the investigation proceeds with professional integrity. Fully! Openly! Honestly! None of the scapegoating evasion that is evidently commonplace at every level of government in America.

From June 17 – July 12, 2003 on 9,157' Mt. Lemmon a fire – the "Aspen Fire" – just northeast of Tucson center, swept across the mountain and destroyed an affluent community of new homes. Like Yarnell, the Mt. Lemmon conflagration advanced with great speed.
    "The Aspen Fire burned from June 17, 2003 for about a month on Mount Lemmon, part of the Santa Catalina Mountains located in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona, and in the surrounding area. It burned 84,750 acres (343.0 km2) (132.4 sq mi) of land, and destroyed 340 homes and businesses of the town of Summerhaven.

    "Damages to electric lines, phone lines, water facilities, streets and sewers totaled $4.1 million. Firefighting cost was about $17 million, and the Forest Service is spending $2.7 million to prevent soil loss.

    "In 2002, the year before the fire started, Congress had been requested to allocate about $2,000,000 to cover the implementation of fire prevention measures in the Coronado National Forest. However, that allocation was reduced to about $150,000 in the Congressional budget process." (These figures do not include the multi-millions of dollars in private property loss. There were, again thanks to the skilled firefighters, no fatalities)
While the Mt. Lemmon fire was spreading, out of control, the mountain was inaccessible to other than fire, police, and rescue vehicles.

Because Helen has friends in Oracle, AZ I knew how to enter from the north. I drove up as far as the paved road went, then I walked as far as I could get until I could see actual flames. I took some photos and retreated, rapidly.

What I am very interested is in re both Mt. Lemmon and Yarnell, is what I know went on in Mt. Lemmon; I intend to ask those involved with Yarnell about what might have contributed to the death of the heroic 19.

The residents of the community on the west side of Mt. Lemmon persisted in warning the State/County about the accumulation of overgrowth that was a potential threat were there to be a major fire. The residents asked to have clearing done around their planned/gated land for the sake of safety. It was not done. Their entire community burned to the ground.

In Prescott/Yarnell I will be interviewing the Fire Department, State and County officials, and news media persons, that time and availability allows.

Arizona is thought to be a State where common sense matters. I, as an Arizonan, know that Federal pressure on Arizona trumps common sense. We now have an autocratic executive in the White House with his czars who act independently contravening our constitutional system, and agencies, like the EPA and Homeland Security, that create laws which is the constitutionally established function of the Legislative Branch.

I want to get some answers as to whether clearing was not done, for what reason, and, if not done, who is responsible for the decision, and whether Arizona will, in the future, apply common sense or allow the State to be bullied by the Feds and environmental pressure groups.

I will be writing about what I uncover.

© Frank Maguire


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Frank Maguire

(Frank Maguire passed away on May 19, 2021. His obituary can be read here.

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren.


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