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Enid Poet Honors Firefighters

By Rita Hess

 

Sharon Frye never expected anyone to read the poem she scrawled on a piece of paper a week after the September terrorist attacks. Now her words are permanently inscribed on a plaque that will travel to New York City aboard the donated Spirit of Oklahoma rescue vehicle.

Frye, who began writing last year after a 20-year hiatus to raise a family, is humbled that her work will be so prominently displayed.

"Writing the piece was a way of expressing my own emotions about the event," she said Friday from Oklahoma City. While there, she read her poem to New York City firefighters during an unveiling ceremony for the truck. "I never imagined the journey my words would take," Frye added.

Her poem – simply titled 911 – describes how September 11 began as a routine autumn morning for emergency personnel. But as the wife of an Enid firefighter, she knows firsthand how quickly events can change from commonplace to catastrophic.

"Firefighters, police officers and rescue workers are public servants who love their jobs," she said. "What happened in September was obviously a major tragedy, but those people put their lives on the line every day doing ordinary things for ordinary people."

Enid's Deputy Chief George Frye said his wife's words inspired many of his coworkers who were struggling to deal with their feelings following the tragedy. "It was hard to watch events unfold that fateful day," he said. "But Sharon used her talent to sum up what firefighters are all about."

Frye gave his wife's poem to Jon Hansen, former Assistant Fire Chief in Oklahoma City, who vowed to do something special with it. After asking Frye to read her poem during Enid Fire Department's Centennial Celebration banquet in March, Hansen announced that it would be placed aboard the Spirit of Oklahoma rescue unit delivered to New York in May.

"I was stunned," she said. "It is a little daunting and very humbling to know it will be on that truck as firefighters answer each call. God arranged for those words to be etched there."

Another of Frye's poems is on permanent display in Germany as a tribute to men and women defending our country.

"I initially wrote Prayer for our Soldiers when my stepson was called to duty in January," she said. "I also emailed it to my cousin, who is part of a Black Hawk unit stationed in Hanau, Germany, and her chaplain asked for permission to use it on a plaque at the base. It's rewarding to think my words can touch someone's heart in a special way, but I never anticipated such profound reactions to either poem."

Frye finds time to write despite raising a 10-year old son and working as a rural mail carrier. She is also active in the Enid Writers Club and the Oklahoma Writer's Federation.

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