A Graduation Speech

(© Travis McGowin and tmcgo510’s blog, 2008-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to tmcgo510’s/Travis McGowin’s blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.)

On Friday, April 30th, I graduated fire academy. I was selected to give a speech during graduation and I wanted to share it with you, the reader. Also included on this post is a picture of some wood burning I did on the back of our badge board. So, without further words from me, here it is:

I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to be with us today. Its a milestone in each of our lives to have reached this amazing day. The fire service is rich in history and tradition and each one of us are glad to be a part of it.

Back in it’s early days, the city of San Francisco was damaged by a large number of fires and earthquakes. The most noted of these occured in 1906. The city of san Francisco had a Phoenix on it’s seal. For those of you who dont know what the Phoenix symbolizes, it is a mythological bird that is said to be forged in flames. When it felt it’s life drawing to a close, it built itself a nest from which, after its death, a new Phoenix arose. It died by setting fire to the nest and burning itself alive. From its body, its ashes, or the nest, a new phoenix came forth. The Phoenix is said to be reborn from the flames. For the city of San Francisco it symbolizes the unconquerable spirit of a great city — a city which, after disaster had struck, emerged new from its own ashes — undaunted, unafraid — with a spirit which will yet endure when physical structures have been reduced to the dust from where they came.

When we started fire school here in Thorsby we were told we needed to have a class name. It took what seemed like forever to come up with a name. In fact, it took so long that the instructors chose a name to call our class temporarily until we could finally find a name on our own. Our instructors chose the name Fire Kittens! That name also came with it’s own motto, “cuddling by the fire.” At the end of each day before we left school we would pray for safety and guidance. After our prayer we would chant “Fire Kittens, cuddling by the fire.” I’m sure you can imagine how much we loved that name.

For the recruit class of 2010, the phoenix has taken on a new meaning. Each one of us have faced many challenges and hardships to truly learn what it means to earn the title “firefighter.” We have all conquered many fears and overcame many obstacles. The instructors here at Thorsby have went above and beyond time and time again teaching us not only the basic foundation of the fire service, but also skills that our text books neglected to show. We have been taught many skills ranging from search and rescue to fire suppresion, but one of the most valuable skills we have been taught is teamwork. We have been shown how to work effectively as a team to accomplish tasks. In the fire service, nothing can be accomplished unless everyone works together as a team.

So, when we finally decided on a name for our class, we wanted something that symbolized our rebirth from recruits to firefighters. We wanted to show that we have been changed through our training and, like the Phoenix, forged through fire. That is why the Thorsby Fire recruit school class of 2010 chose the name Phoenix Company. For our motto we chose “Adapt and Overcome.” Just like the city of San Francisco adapted and overcame their situation, we as recruits have had to change ourselves to make it through each evolution of our training. That is why at the end of each day, we came together with a new chant. Phoenix Company, Adapt and Overcome.


~ by tmcgo510 on May 5, 2010.

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