As 19 Arizona firefighters are laid to rest, their families are finding comfort wherever they can. For one widow, that comfort came in the return of a bracelet and promise to God.
"About six months ago Andrew [Ashcroft] was in charge of our family home evening," his widow, Juliann, told the Desert News. "His lesson was aimed at our children (ages 6 and younger) about how we all need to be good so we can be together as a family forever. As part of the lesson he got us all these white rubber wristbands. He said they would remind us to be good, so we called them our 'Be Good' bracelets."
The Ashcrofts are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Andrew was killed along with 18 other firefighters on June 30. Juliann explained that most of her husband's belongings were too charred or melted to be properly identified. One thing, however, survived the inferno: the "Be Good" bracelet.
"It was just a cheap thing, and it was made of rubber – not exactly fire resistant. It was a miracle that it survived the heat and flames," Juliann said. "I just see it as a tender mercy from Heavenly Father."
"Andrew promised me that he would wear his until it fell off his wrist – because it was so worn out – or until the day he died. To him, it was a symbol of his commitment to me and to our family and that it was forever. So he wore it all the time, and he told me he looked at it a lot. It reminded him of us, and it made him want to be a better man," she added. "Andrew made me a promise, and God wanted us to know that he kept it."
Juliann and Andrew knew each other since middle school, and faith was vitally important to both of them. Juliann was raised in the LDS Church and later Andrew was baptized into the same Church. They have four sons: Ryder, Shiloh, Tate and Choice.
"Andrew represented the church and our family well. He would lead us in family home evening and family prayer. And now that Andrew is gone, I find that I don't think or hope or believe that I'll be with him again – I know that I will. Through this hard, hard time, I've felt my hope turning into belief and then turning into knowledge."
Andrew's funeral is being held today.