A week of he­roes, past and present

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

You couldn’t miss them dur­ing the last two weeks.

Their pic­tures raced across the screens, big and small — on TVs, smart­phones, com­put­ers and iPads ga­lore.

Reg­u­lar Amer­i­cans, trans­formed overnight, into hon­est to good­ness, flesh and blood, su­per­heroes.

I’m not talk­ing about the comic book kind, or the fake ones that make big bucks — like over­paid pro ath- letes, con­ceited movie stars, pompous ca­reer politi­cians, stuck-up singers, and tacky re­al­ity TV stars.

I’m re­fer­ring to gen­uine, red-white-and-blue, real deals.

Pub­lic ser­vice per­son­nel who did their jobs, aided by im­pul­sive vol­un­teers — who strapped on their per­sonal gear, rolled up their sleeves, got into their trucks, and drove their boats south, to help res­cue their fel­low cit­i­zens, beaten down by two mon­ster hur­ri­canes.

By co­in­ci­dence, Hur­ri­cane Har­vey’s af­ter­math and its evil sis­ter Irma’s land­fall ar­rived close to the 16th an­niver­sary of 9/11. In com- mem­o­ra­tion, cable news chan­nels aired scenes of the deadly his­toric ter­ror­ist at­tacks in New York City, at the Pen­tagon, and in ru­ral Penn­syl­va­nia.

As thou­sands of 2001 vic­tims’ names were read at Ground Zero, dur­ing an­nual cer­e­monies in Man­hat­tan, taped scenes of po­lice and fire­fight­ers run­ning into — not away from — im­mi­nent danger re­minded us of their brave and self­less ac­tions on that deadly Septem­ber day.

Fast for­ward 16 years, and a new crop of gal­lant he­roes ap­peared, rush­ing into the eye of the storms to of­fer aid and com­fort to their South­ern brothers and sis­ters.

Th­ese ac­tions con­firm that the noble char­ac­ter and met­tle of the Amer­i­can spirit is al­ways there, sim­mer­ing just be­low the sur­face, and ready to spring into ac­tion — with­out await­ing an in­vi­ta­tion — when des­per­ately needed.

But th­ese ev­ery­day ex­am­ples of brav­ery — of putting other’s needs above their own com­fort and safety — don’t hap­pen only dur­ing un­ex­pected nat­u­ral dis­as­ters that cap­ture the at­ten­tion of the na­tion.

They take place, more than we no­tice, in our own home­towns, neigh­bor­hoods, cities and coun­ties. They may not make the front page of the pa­per, or lo­cal TV broad­casts, but while most of us sleep, out there, in the dark­ness are:

An electric com­pany line­man, restor­ing power;

A vol­un­teer fire­fighter, sum­moned to duty;

An am­bu­lance driver, rush­ing to­ward a hos­pi­tal;

A po­lice of­fi­cer, dis­patched to a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous crime scene;

An emer­gency room nurse, treat­ing a se­ri­ous in­jury;

A road crew, clear­ing a downed tree block­ing a road;

A Red Cross vol­un­teer, ar­rang­ing shel­ter for a dis­tressed fam­ily;

An emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cian of­fer­ing life­sav­ing care;

A tow truck driver, called to a high­way ac­ci­dent;

A Na­tional Guard mem­ber, ac­ti­vated dur­ing a riot;

A mem­ber of the clergy, pro­vid­ing com­fort af­ter a loved one’s pass­ing.

This is an in­com­plete list of our lo­cal he­roes — peo­ple we see on the street, pass in the hall­way, sit be­side in church.

In many ways, they’re just like us. Ex­cept, they’re trained and ready to re­spond, when called upon to help oth­ers in need, dur­ing emer­gen­cies both big and small.

And for most that means leav­ing their fam­ily mem­bers be­hind, which is a sig­nif­i­cant sac­ri­fice for their loved ones as well.

Most of their good deeds won’t make the news. But their de­vo­tion and brav­ery make a very big dif­fer­ence to those they help.

That’s why they’re the gen­uine, red-white-and­blue, real deals.

And we shouldn’t only think of them when we need to dial 911.

Ed Okonow­icz is an con­tribut­ing Ce­cil Whig colum­nist and au­thor of the “Off the Cuffs” se­ries.

Tick­ets $9 ea 717-721-9409 or www.bestkept­se­cret­s­tour.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.