In thanks, Montanans tie a yellow ribbon 

Joan Perry and other Bitterroot citizens were looking for a way to show firefighters and emergency service personnel in Ravalli County how much they were appreciated. The Yellow Ribbon Campaign and a valley-wide appreciation day are the result.

Everyone in western Montana—and across the country—is being urged to wear a yellow ribbon to show support for and thanks to the more than 12,000 people who are actively engaged in fire activity in the state. Yellow was picked to recognize the distinctive yellow fire-resistant Nomex shirts worn by the firefighters.

By Friday afternoon last week, businesses were offering yellow ribbons and pins to customers, and people from one end of the Bitterroot Valley to the other were wearing the “thank you” symbols.

In addition, Perry’s ad hoc committee of service groups, organizations, businesses and churches sought and received a proclamation from the Ravalli County Commissioners last week declaring Sept. 4, Labor Day, as Community Appreciation Day for fire fighters and emergency service workers in Ravalli County.

Plans for the day include a 4 p.m. community rally at the Hamilton High School football field on South Ninth Street or in the old Hamilton High School gymnasium on South Fifth Street if air quality is bad.

The rally will include a nondenominational invocation, an inspirational address by Connie Sidebottom of Stevensville, a talk from Sheriff Perry Johnson, testimonials of thanks from community members, general recognition and thanks to firefighters, volunteers and emergency service personnel, music by various local artists and, possibly, refreshments. Children from Darby and Pinesdale will make a special presentation.

“We know the people we are honoring won’t be able to be there, but everyone needs to be able to tell them ‘thank you’ anyway,” says Perry, who is helping to organize the event. “We wanted a non-political, positive event. This is coming from the heart. It’s about people thanking people.”

Additional details of the event will be developed during the week.

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