CONROE, Texas - They take care of their own. People who serve in uniform always do, no matter the uniform. The procession through Conroe and down I-45 to George Bush Airport proved there are no exceptions.
"You don't see anything in the news or in the media until something happens," said firefighter Trey Lamb, as he watched the vehicles go by.
And something happened, alright. National Forest Service firefighter Daniel Laird was part of a three-man crew flying in a helicopter over Sam Houston State Forest doing something most of us don't. They were setting a series of small fires for what's called a prescribed burn.
"A prescribed bed burn is a land management tool used to improve ecosystem health and reduce hazardous fuels in case of a wild fire," said Weldon Dent, a public information officer assigned to the service.
They were trying to prevent a repeat of 2011 when wildfires scorched the area. Laird was actually from California and was on assignment here in Houston. The two others in the helicopter have been released from the hospital, but their names are being withheld.
Most of the uniformed men and women in the procession didn't know him, but they were there to honor his sacrifice, and to participate in the ritual we see when one of them lays down their lives. These rituals offer comfort to those in uniform in ways that those of us who don't wear one cannot fully comprehend.
"It's important to those of us who stayed behind. It's not all for naught. People do appreciate it,” someone said.
Laird leaves behind a wife and a daughter.