Submitted by his mother
Benjamin Matthew Lang was born on October 2‚ 1981. A quiet child‚ full of wonder‚ he was destined for greatness. A celebrated athlete‚ he graduated from Lake Wales High School in 2000. He was a member of Hope Presbyterian Church. He attended Ridge Vocation/Technical Center where he completed his Minimum Fire Standards for Professional Firefighting. He joined Polk County Fire Department in July 2001. He later attended night classes at Valencia College and obtained his EMT Certification. He was so proud of the fact that by the age of 20 he had bought his first home. He had a promising career with the fire department and looked forward to going back to school to become a Paramedic as well.
Ben loved to play football and baseball with his friends. He was an avid weightlifter. This led to many ‘in-house’ competitions with the veterans at the fire station. He collected baseball and football cards‚ comic boooks and action figures. He had a strong faith in God and an ardent love for his family.
He was the most honest person you could ever know. He was neither pretentious nor fake. If you were his friend‚ you were his friend for life. Bigger than life‚ reserved and shy‚ Ben had such a gentle spirit. One of the best stories about him was told by his fellow firefighters. During Hurricane Charley‚ the weather conditions had become too dangerous for emergency vehicles to be on the roads. All of the firemen were at the station watching the storm through the open bay doors. A dove‚ trying to ride out the storm in a nearby tree fell to the ground unable to fly to safety. All of the men stood around trying to decide what to do when Ben came out dressed in his yellow rain gear. He went out in the storm to rescue the little bird. Successful on the second attempt he placed the bird in a dry corner of the truck bay on a towel. Eventually as the storm subsided the little dove flew away. This was the kind of person Ben was. It is no wonder his chosen path in life was to give of himself. He chose‚ like so many other men and women to lay his life on the line‚ no fear‚ no questions asked‚ to help others.
On August 23‚ 2004 Ben was working overtime for another firefighter when the call came in for medical response to a seizure victim. When the fire truck pulled up on the scene the Paramedics asked if one of the firemen would ride in the ambulance to help stabilize the patient in route to the hospital. Ben hopped in the back of the ambulance like he had done so many times before. This would be the last call Ben would ever go on. On the way to the hospital the ambulance driver lost control in the rainy weather and crashed.
Ben believed as I do the reason for our lives on this earth are to become the people we are to be in our next life. The human race is too complex too spiritual for this life to be all there is. I am very proud of the man Ben had become. I know he is somewhere else and I know I will see him again. Benjamin was not only my son he was one of my best friends. In his quiet way he taught me to follow my dreams‚ to stand tall to never give up and never give in. I hope those who read this letter will take time out to reflect‚ not only on whom Ben was but who you are and who you want to be. Nothing is certain in this life we live. One never knows what day will be the last on this earth. The only sure thing we can count on is ourselves‚ the spirit within us.
As a fitting memorial to his life the Benjamin M. Lang Scholarship Fund was created through Polk Community College to help another young person follow their dream. It is comforting to know Ben’s dream will be kept alive although through someone else. Ben had accomplished so much in his short life. It has been said ‘Ben was not only our Hero‚ he was our Super Hero!’ He will be forever loved and never forgotten.
I love you son!