Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Farewell to a fireman

Perhaps is difficult to say bye to a fellow you didn't really met but you saw from time to time, but it is his story what really struck and moved me. Firemen in Chile are a professional voluntary service started in Valparaiso in 1851. All other firemen in the country follow this precept and the traditions started in Valpo long ago. So, He was a young fireman who died fighting a forest fire who had gone wild getting over 106 houses burned at the end in one of the hilly neighbourhoods of Valparaiso. Gabriel Lara was his name, a young fellow of 25 who returned to the fire trying to save a comrade, but suddenly the wind changed and he got burned instead dying after 6 days of fight at the hospital, so I went to pay my respects to his memory asking permission to play something with one of my bagpipes during his wake for his burial at his fire station. I explained there that for me, like in the Bible's Old Testament statement singing is praying twice, but piping is praying thrice. Anyway, the firemen there asked me if I could play at his funeral later on, so last night I played some hymns and marches on gaita (galician bagpipes) during his funeral service and on the night walk to the cementery.
The local TVN station showed this funeral live on their newscast. Thousands of people went to say the last farewell to him.... the latest fireman hero in our city.... Gabriel Lara, R.I.P. We won't forget you.