To all my fellow Vermonters, Boston is a city that I love and have been living in for the past three years. It has been shaken, not only by the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks in April of 2013, but also by the truly unfortunate loss of two brave souls from the Boston Fire Department who fought in the line of duty of Engine 33 and Ladder 15. On March 26, 2014, Lieutenant Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy both lost their lives to a nine-alarm deadly blaze in Boston’s own Back Bay community. Lt. Walsh was only 43 years old and the father of three children who were not yet ten. Kennedy, who died in his prime at only 33, served our country as a Marine in Iraq and was also a superior role model to children in the Big Brother’s program.

As humans, especially living in such a peaceful and rural community as Vermont, we rarely see tragedies such as these. We natural country folk take things for granted -- particularly our firefighters in Shaftsbury and Arlington. We are not exposed to such dangers like these unless we view them on the news from our televisions safely at home. I myself was born and raised in the Shires and have had a lot of "reality checks" when I came to college here in Boston. I experienced and witnessed not only the cruelties that people are capable of, but also the most tragic events in which we have no control over, such as these two horrible deaths.

The primary reason I chose to leave Vermont was to grow and discover multiple different facets of myself and to become a police officer in order to arm myself with the tools necessary to try and make a difference in people and tragedies such as these. The only thing I can do at this time (in lieu of leaving flowers at the fire stations and make cookies) is write this letter for the surviving firefighters. I ask, as a true-born Vermont soul who has been deeply affected by this loss, to please give what you can -- if you can -- to the Boston Firefighters Credit Union at https://www.bosfirecu.com via credit card; or, if you prefer, to send funds by mail to Lt. Walsh/Firefighter Kennedy Memorial Fund at 60 Hallet Street, Dorchester Mass., 02124.

In doing so you are supporting the men and women of the Boston Fire Department and also inspiring police departments across the nation. Vermont is a part of New England, and Boston is the only true "city" that New England truly has. #BostonStrong.

Haley Van Orman

BOSTON, Mass.