Sean Swope commentary: A tribute to unsung heroes — first responders in Lewis County


On Monday, we remembered the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, a stark reminder of the heroic deeds and sacrifices of our first responders echoes across our nation.

In recent years, Lewis County, like many other communities, has faced increasing challenges. The significant rise in drug-related issues has led to higher rates of addiction, homelessness, crime and mental health problems. These mounting troubles have put an enormous strain on our valiant first responders, who tirelessly battle these issues day in and day out. Their resilience and dedication mirror the heroism displayed during the 9/11 tragedy two decades ago. Today, we honor them, offering our deepest gratitude for their tireless efforts to keep our community safe.

Our Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team has taken a firm stand against the drug menace, performing remarkable operations along the Interstate 5 corridor, a known route for drug traffickers. Their efforts have been nothing short of heroic, confiscating large quantities of drugs that could have harmed every resident of Lewis County. This significant achievement has, without a doubt, saved many lives. We are deeply grateful.

Covering the vast and diverse terrain of Lewis County, the sheriff’s office stands as a beacon of vigilance and safety. Despite facing staffing shortages, these dedicated officers have taken up extra responsibilities to maintain peace and order in our community. Their prompt presence in critical areas makes us feel safe and protected. We owe them our deepest gratitude.

Additionally, the Centralia Police Department has demonstrated an excellent balance of justice and compassion in their duties. As they tackle the growing transient population in the city, these officers manage to maintain a commendable balance of firmness and empathy, handling each case with great professionalism. We remain thankful for their balanced approach.

We must extend our heartfelt thanks to every law enforcement officer who works tirelessly to shield us from harm. Your continuous bravery and courage have not gone unnoticed. In a time when pursuing a career in law enforcement comes with its own set of challenges, your steadfast commitment stands as a beacon of hope. Your dedication and refusal to quit are a true embodiment of resilience and devotion. We are profoundly grateful for your service, and you have our utmost respect and love.

Our firefighters represent the epitome of selflessness and bravery, often being the first to respond to emergencies. They are much more than their title suggests, acting swiftly to save lives in various critical situations. As we recognize their steadfast dedication, we also honor one of Lewis County’s finest, Chief Michael Kytta, who will soon retire. A true leader, Chief Kytta has guided his team with wisdom and courage, leaving a lasting impact on Lewis County.

Let’s not forget our Emergency Medical Services, the silent warriors in this battle. In the critical moments following an emergency, their quick and skilled actions can be the determining factor between life and death. Their consistent dedication proves that they are a cornerstone in maintaining the health and safety of our community.

As we navigate these difficult times, it’s crucial to take a moment to express our deep gratitude to our first responders. Though their jobs might often seem thankless, they embody the spirit of community service, protection and recovery. Their perseverance in their fields is truly heroic.

To all our first responders in Lewis County, we thank you. Your dedication and sacrifice make our county a haven of safety and community spirit. You are undoubtedly a major reason why Lewis County remains a special place to live, even amid these challenges. We stand with you, support you and are eternally grateful for your service. Thank you for being our unsung heroes, our beacon of hope, and for fostering a community united in resilience and strength.


Sean Swope is a Lewis County commissioner.