Each month, The Oklahoman's editorial board recognizes a contributor to Your Views for a letter to the editor that exemplifies a timely, fair, accurate and cogent viewpoint. Stacey Ward of Tulsa is the honoree for letters that appeared in Your Views last month. His “Oklahoma Standard” letter was published April 20 and is reprinted below.
Meet the writer:
Stacey Ward was a Tulsa firefighter who worked in the aftermath of the Murrah Building bombing 17 years ago. Though it was a traumatic incident, he says it was uplifting to see the community's response and made him proud to be an Oklahoman. He feels humbled and blessed to have been a part of it. Ward served as a firefighter for 23 years and 8 months before retiring due to an accident. He also worked in the office of Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune as an advance planning, scheduling and security officer. Ward, 49, is a Tulsa native and played baseball at Connors State College. He has two children, Kayla and Dalton.
Seventeen years ago I was blessed to work for more than two weeks with Oklahoma City firefighters, police officers and citizens. I was a Tulsa firefighter who worked at the Murrah Building bombing site. While meeting Federal Emergency Management Agency crew members, the great people of Oklahoma set a standard that FEMA crews called the “Oklahoma Standard.” Oklahomans treated these crews with such respect and generosity that one guy said, “I brought money because we're used to buying food and other items when at disaster scenes and I can't spend a penny in Oklahoma. You people are unreal with your generosity.” I was walking out the gate after working one evening and a family came up to me, handed me a sack and asked, “Would you take these treats in to the rescue dogs?”
I was in a severe wreck in 2007 and was in the hospital five months and had to retire early because I'm in a wheelchair. At our state firefighters convention in Tulsa in 2008, the Oklahoma City firefighters had my name printed on the sleeve of their convention shirts! I can't start to explain the greatness we have in Oklahoma City's first responders.
God bless all who lost family or friends that tragic day. Thanks for letting me be part of the “Oklahoma Standard.”
Stacey Ward, Tulsa