Smithville Volunteer firefighter Lieutenant Donnie Cantrell received the "Highest Attendance Award" Friday night during an appreciation dinner for city firefighters at the Smithville First United Methodist Christian Fellowship Center.
The award was presented to Cantrell by Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker.
Lieutenant Cantrell responded most to incidents during 2013. A total of 125 out of 144 total fire calls. Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale was next having responded to 123 calls followed by James R. Hunt with 118 and Lieutenant John Poss at 114.
Deputy Chief Hale received an award for having put in the most training hours during the year at 227 followed by Lieutenant Cantrell with 161 hours, Lieutenant Danny Poss with 157 hours, and Lieutenant John Poss with 155 hours.
Chief Parker recognized all firefighters for their service to the department and the City of Smithville including:
Shawn Jacobs, auxiliary member with 4 months of service
Will Frazier: three months
Tyler Ludwig: three months
Patrick Edge: one year
Becky Atnip: one year
Cory Killian: three years
Kevin Adcock: three years
Ronald Whitaker: five years
Glen Lattimore: six years
Stephanie Wright: eight years
Gary Johnson: nine years
James R. Hunt: nine years
Wallace Caldwell: ten years
Charles Young: fifteen years
William Brown: sixteen years
Greg Bess (photographer): nineteen years
Lieutenant Anthony Wright: twenty two years
Lieutenant John Poss: twenty three years
Captain Jeff Wright: twenty eight years
Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale: twenty nine years
Lieutenant Danny Poss: thirty four years
Lieutenant Donnie Cantrell: thirty four years
Chief Charles Parker: thirty four years.
In addition to the firefighters and their spouses, the event was attended by Mayor Jimmy Poss and Aldermen Danny Washer, Jason Judd Murphy, Josh Miller, Tim Stribling, and Shawn Jacobs and members of their families. City officials expressed appreciation to the firefighters for the work they do and their commitment to helping improve the operation of the fire department to keep residents safer.
Chaplain Wallace Caldwell read the following poem:
Her hair was up in a pony tail,
her favorite dress tied with a bow.
Today was Daddy's Day at school,
and she couldn't wait to go.
But her mommy tried to tell her,
that she probably should stay home.
Why the kids might not understand,
if she went to school alone.
But she was not afraid;
she knew just what to say.
What to tell her classmates
of why he wasn't there today.
But still her mother worried,
for her to face this day alone.
And that was why once again,
she tried to keep her daughter home.
But the little girl went to school
eager to tell them all.
About a dad she never sees
a dad who never calls.
There were daddies along the wall in back,
for everyone to meet.
Children squirming impatiently,
anxious in their seats
One by one the teacher called
a student from the class.
To introduce their daddy,
as seconds slowly passed.
At last the teacher called her name,
every child turned to stare.
Each of them was searching,
for a man who wasn't there.
"Where's her daddy at?"
she heard a boy call out.
"She probably doesn't have one,"
another student dared to shout.
And from somewhere near the back,
she heard a daddy say,
"Looks like another deadbeat dad,
too busy to waste his day."
The words did not offend her,
as she smiled up at her Mom.
And looked back at her teacher,
who told her to go on.
And with hands behind her back,
slowly she began to speak.
And out from the mouth of a child,
came words incredibly unique.
"My Daddy couldn't be here,
because he lives so far away.
But I know he wishes he could be,
since this is such a special day.
And though you cannot meet him,
I wanted you to know.
All about my daddy,
and how much he loves me so.
He loved to tell me stories
he taught me to ride my bike.
He surprised me with pink roses,
and taught me to fly a kite.
We used to share fudge sundaes,
and ice cream in a cone.
And though you cannot see him.
I'm not standing here alone.
"Cause my daddy's always with me,
even though we are apart
I know because he told me,
he'll forever be in my heart"
With that, her little hand reached up,
and lay across her chest.
Feeling her own heartbeat,
beneath her favorite dress.
And from somewhere here in the crowd of dads,
her mother stood in tears
Proudly watching her daughter,
who was wise beyond her years.
For she stood up for the love
of a man not in her life.
Doing what was best for her,
doing what was right.
And when she dropped her hand back down,
staring straight into the crowd
She finished with a voice so soft,
but its message clear and loud.
"I love my daddy very much,
he's my shining star.
And if he could, he'd be here,
but heaven's just too far
You see he was a policeman
and died just this past year
When airplanes hit the towers
and taught Americans to fear.
But sometimes when I close my eyes,
it's like he never went away."
And then she closed her eyes,
and she saw him there that day.
And to her mothers amazement,
she witnessed with surprise.
A room full of daddies and children,
all starting to close their eyes.
Who knows what they saw before them,
who knows what they felt inside.
Perhaps for merely a second,
they saw him at her side.
"I know you're with me Daddy,"
to the silence she called out.
And what happened next made believers,
of those once filled with doubt.
Not one in that room could explain it,
for each of their eyes had been closed.
But there on the desk beside her,
was a fragrant long-stemmed pink rose.
And a child was blessed, if only for a moment,
by the love of her shining star.
And given the gift of believing,
that heaven is never too far.