Lone Star Elementary School students celebrate during the Patriot and Hero Parade Sept. 8 at their school. The parade celebrated first responders — firefighters, police officers, medical technicians and others — and honored the lives of those who died in the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Jessica Minyard, a second-grade teacher, separates her husband’s work life from their at-home life.

Her husband, Layn Minyard, an Arlington firefighter, has been a first responder for 18 years, she said, and deals with saving lives and stressful situations daily.

The couple compartmentalizes family time and work hours to avoid burnout and emotional exhaustion.

“I treat his days at work like he’s hanging with the boys. But I think it’s obviously a coping mechanism,” Minyard, who has been a teacher for 14 years, said. “We barely talk when he’s at work. When he comes back from work, that’s when he might unload about his day, his shift, losing people, the anxiety that causes him with raising our girls and just everyday scenarios.”

In their household, Minyard’s three daughters know the intensity and importance of first responders’ days first-hand, but without the scary details, she said. 

On Sept. 8, Minyard and over 600 elementary school students chanted “U.S.A.” as fire trucks, police cars and ambulances drove by during the second annual Patriot and Hero Parade on Sept. 8.

The Lone Star Elementary School students enjoyed speeches from Keller ISD school board members, state Rep. Nate Schatzline and principal Steven Hurst as well as a police helicopter showcase.

A Lone Star Elementary School student waves a U.S. flag during the Patriot and Hero Parade at her elementary school Sept. 8. About 670 students attended the parade Friday morning ahead of the 22nd anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. First responders spoke to students and showed off their service vehicles. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Students point to the sky as a police helicopter flew overhead on Sept. 8. The Lone Star Elementary School students celebrated the second annual Patriot and Hero Parade. Students chanted “U.S.A.” as fire trucks and police cars drove by. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
A police helicopter flies overhead for the Patriot and Hero Parade at Lone Star Elementary School. The second annual parade featured a retelling of 9/11 events by students, a parade and speeches from Texas House District 93 Representative Nate Schatzline and Keller ISD school board members. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Lone Star Elementary School principal Steven Hurst lowers the U.S. and Texas flags to half staff on Sept. 8. Hurst said a lot of students’ parents are first responders, so the parade honors them and emphasizes the importance of their service. “If the kids see how amazing these people are, and that their moms and dads are doing hero work, that’s awesome,” Hurst said. “It puts the kids in the right mindset of who those people are and how amazing they are.” (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Jessica Minyard, a second-grade teacher at Lone Star Elementary, has been teaching for 14 years — her partner has been a firefighter for 18 years. Minyard and her husband, Layn Minyard, have three daughters — 4, 8 and 10 years old. For Minyard and her husband, keeping their work and personal lives separate allows them to deal with the heaviness of their jobs. Layn is a firefighter in Arlington while the family lives in Keller. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

The parade is important for children to see how cool and incredible first responders are, Hurst said. The principal wants his students to know first responders are there to help them.

For Minyard and Layn, that’s a daily lesson.

“Their line of work is so important and it’s crucial for our cities. The biggest part is my husband being able to share what he’s doing every day, being able to share that our world is a bit of a scary place,” Minyard said. “Sometimes we can be in fear of that, but we have to know there are people here to help us.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...