Minnesota Commander: First responders have families, too

By Paul Hassing

Members of The American Legion across Minnesota and across the nation express their deep gratitude and appreciation for the difficult work men and women in the first responder fields of law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medicine do day in and day out. They save lives and make our communities safe.

Paul Hassing mugshot
Paul Hassing

We share the sorrow felt over the senseless loss of life in Burnsville on Saturday, Feb. 17. Our thoughts and prayers — and our hearts — go out to the two officers and one firefighter-paramedic who died responding to a domestic violence call early that morning.

Minnesota will miss Officer Paul Elmstrand, Officer Matthew Ruge and Firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth. They are gone far, far too soon. Elmstrand and Ruge were 27. Finseth was 40.

In this day and age of social media, culture wars and divisive political rhetoric, it can be easy to lose compassion and kindness for others — especially our first responders. They are out in the public eye daily for all to scrutinize. We ask people to remember our shared humanity, our basic decency. Let’s remember first responders have families they deserve to come home to, just like everyone else. They have loved ones. They have lives, dreams, goals. Many of them, like Finseth, are military veterans and served our country.

Members of The American Legion, at each meeting, state the Preamble to the American Legion Constitution. The statement includes the phrase “to maintain law and order.”

Thank you, first responders, for helping to fulfill The American Legion’s principles.