Sadly it was a tragic circumstance that caused me to put on my dress uniform today, but I couldn’t help but pause to reflect on the “whole picture” in the situation. Today is Valentine’s Day and pictured are myself and a very special Valentine, my daughter Nora. This message is to you, Baby Girl:
Your name isn’t just something pretty your mother and I picked out of a book (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Your name is Nora BRICELYN Davis. Yes, it’s pretty and yes your mom and I both love the name, but that’s not why we gave it to you.
Twenty-six years ago today a fire broke out on Bricelyn Street in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. I could tell the whole story but, in short, firefighters battled the fire through freezing temperatures and treacherous conditions as all the things that could go wrong started to go wrong one after another.
Three of my predecessors paid the ultimate price that morning as they gave their lives in defense of our city. Granted, this was 23 years before I took my oath and donned the badge; I never had the pleasure to meet or work with any of them. But their actions that day had a ripple effect that changed the way we do things today.
You are named in honor of three regular people who woke up and went to work just like they did so many other times, answered “the call” like they did so many other times, and did their jobs like they did so many other times but never made it back home.
I want you to know with full confidence that your mom and I will support you in any endeavor you choose to pursue in life. We will foster your dreams and nurture your efforts to accomplish whatever goals you wish to achieve. You are destined for greatness baby girl, but never allow your greatness to be measured by other people or common standards.
Be patient and center yourself. Never half-ass anything. Find something you understand that speaks to your heart and whole-ass that one thing. Crush your own standards. Success isn’t only measured in wealth, acceptance and notoriety. It’s most importantly measured in personal satisfaction.. how you feel at the end of the day.
Do not fear failure. You have to fall once in a while to learn how to get back up, then you won’t make that mistake again. Don’t forget the satisfaction that can be found in the simple things we routinely take for granted. Never forget where you came from or who you truly are no matter what you aspire to be.
Understand that the world is a big intimidating place but you have your place in it: trust yourself. Most importantly, understand that nothing is free.Never forget the countless people who got up and went to work like they did so many times so we can be Valentines today. Remember what you do today has a ripple effect years down the line. Leave it better than you found it.
I love you baby girl.
Dustin Davis, Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire