LAURINBURG — The sound of 100 children imitating a fire engine — horn, siren, and slosh of water in the tank — in Scotland County Memorial Library on Wednesday turned to a dull roar when a real fire engine pulled up.
The library’s summer reading program is based upon the theme “Every Hero Has a Story,” and this week the crowd had story time with the kind of hero that neither wears a cape, nor flies, nor leaps over buildings.
“Everybody has a different idea of what a hero is and what heroes do and what heroes should look like,” said Scotland County Sheriff’s Captain Mitch Johnson, who along with Laurinburg Fire Chief Randy Gibson, and Laurinburg Police Department school resource officer Brent Strong each read a short story about their line of work.
“If you think about it, heroes don’t really know that they’re heroes; they just simply go out and do what they’re supposed to do.”
Johnson broke the ice by emphasizing that law enforcement officers and other emergency personnel take on a helping role.
“Most people that see individuals in uniform don’t really know exactly what they do, but for your safety it’s important that when you see a uniform, you remember that uniform is there to help you.”
Matt McMillan, Engineer Donald Locklear, and Balyn Kraut of the Laurinburg Fire Department explained the use of common firefighting tools: the Halligan bar to enter burning buildings, the pike pole to get to a roof through the ceiling, and the thermal imaging camera to find fires and missing people inside buildings.
Gibson pointed out that the definition of a hero is broad enough to include parents, grandparents, and teachers too.
“It says a person who is admired for great or brave acts and fine qualities … that could go for a lot of people from our military, the soldiers who serve our country to keep this country safe and protect us to our police officers, sheriff’s deputies, paramedics, secret agents, firefighters, to rescue squad workers.”
Even doing one’s part to prevent bad things from happening can be heroic when it is not the popular choice.
“Sparky says that you are his friend if you don’t play with matches and lighters and if you know how to be a safe kid,” Gibson encouraged. “I hope everyone practices safety no matter where you are or where you go at all times, then you’re one of our heroes by doing that.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.