Posted at: 01/02/2013 12:01 AM
Updated at: 01/02/2013 5:22 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion
The four firefighters ambushed on Christmas morning may now receive one of the nation's top honors and it's all thanks to a man named Paul Hood, who created an online petition on the White House website.
The petition is asking for the president to award Mike Chiapperini, Tomasz Kaczowka, Joseph Hofstetter, and Theodore Scardino the designation. Chiapperini and Kaczowka were killed during the ambush. Scardino and Hofstetter are still recovering at Strong Hospital.
The petition has been the big buzz on social media websites Wednesday and as of Wednesday night, almost 8,000 people from all over the nation, from Florida to Ohio to Wisconsin have signed on.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is considered the highest civilian award in the United States. It recognizes those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Mother Teresa and Ronald Reagan have received this award and now thousands of people are hoping four local heroes can be added to that list.
Tom McCoy, of Webster, said, “They did what so many people don't even think about doing. They gave their lives in the line of duty. Trying to help others.”
For resident Tom McCoy and the entire Webster community, the Christmas Eve tragedy is still fresh on their minds. The funerals may be over and firefighters may be back at work, but there are still signs that the pain is far from over.
Al Sienkiewicz, Webster Fire District, said, “There's a let down right now. It's very quiet around here, it's very quiet around the fire station. I think what we need is a few events like this.”
Al Sienkiewicz of the Webster Fire District says the amount of support has been overwhelming. So he wasn't surprised when another form of support was launched online just days ago.
Sienkiewicz said, “We think it would be fitting for our members to be recognized considering the gravity of what's happened here.”
A man by the name of Paul Hood began this petition just days after the tragedy. Since then, thousands have signed up online, in hopes of honoring the four firefighters in a very big way. All they need is 25,000 hits and the four men will be awarded the Medal of Freedom.
Sienkiewicz said, I'm not surprised at all quite frankly and to get to 25,000 is going to be a big deal because I look at all of the support we've received up to this point and time.”
All it takes is an email address, your first and last name and your zip code. For a brotherhood that is still in so much shock, Sienkiewicz says this honor will mean so much.
Sienkiewicz said, “This is not your average incident by any stretch of the imagination so we think extraordinary things should be done as well.”
According to the website, if a petition gets enough support, White House officials will review it, make sure it is sent to appropriate policy experts and then they will issue an official response.
A total of 25,000 signatures is needed by January 27 to complete the petition.
You can click here if you would like to sign that petition.
There is also a petition for Officer John Ritter. He was the off-duty Greece Police Officer who was injured in the tragedy while on his way to work. Click here for the petition for Officer Ritter.
Genesee Brewery is also holding a benefit to help support the West Webster Fire Dept. Victims & Families. For more information, click here.