Tag Archives: heroes

Heroes are answering the call again

Here we go yet again.

Fires explode across tens of thousands of acres, driven great distances by hurricane-force winds. Homes are incinerated. People’s lives are put in extreme jeopardy. Prized possessions vanish in the extreme heat.

Who answers the call to help? The firefighters, police, emergency medical personnel. That’s who.

It’s happening yet again in southern California. Those dreaded Santa Ana winds are devastating a region and imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.

It should go without saying, but these men and women are the truest heroes imaginable. They run into the firestorm. They fight these unspeakable forces from the air and on the ground. They expose themselves to heat, flame, smoke and utter exhaustion.

And then we have neighbors helping neighbors. They, too, deserve our prayers and good wishes as they all — every one of them — battle to save what they can against forces far stronger than anything they can ever hope to control.

This has been a tough year for so many Americans. The Texas Gulf Coast and Florida are still battling to recover from the savagery of hurricane wind and rain. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands residents cannot yet get full power and potable water restored after enduring their own misery from yet another storm.

The Santa Rosa fires up north from the inferno that is engulfing southern California at this moment brought their own measure of agony to beleaguered residents and the responders who rushed to their aid.

We should salute them all. We should pray for their safety. We should hope for as speedy a recovery as is humanly possible.

Thank you, heroes. All of you make the rest of us so proud.

Thank you, firefighters; you are our heroes

I suppose one could trace Americans’ love affair with emergency responders back to around the 9/11 attacks.

You remember the horror, the heartache — and the heroism!

I damn sure remember all of it.

The heroes were the firefighters and police officers who ran into burning skyscrapers in New York City, or into the Pentagon to rescue individuals who had been trapped by fire and smoke or perhaps paralyzed by the terror that been thrust upon them.

In that spirit I want to offer a word of gratitude and utmost respect and admiration to some emergency responders who at this very moment are fighting fires all along our sprawling landscape on the High Plains of Texas.

The wind is howling and is fanning flames across many acres of grassland. The firefighters are answering the call to battle the flames — and the relentless wind.

What’s more, many of those brave men and women are volunteers. They have day jobs. They do other things for pay, but they volunteer their time as firefighters because of their desire to serve the public.

Sure, we say it on occasion. We express our thanks and our appreciation to our friends and tell them how we stand in awe of those who risk their lives to protect us from nature’s wrath.

Do we tell the men and women directly how much we admire them for the work they do? No. Of course we don’t. I don’t.

I’m doing so here in this blog. I hope the word gets out. These individuals are heroes in every sense of an often-overused and misused word.

I also plan to tell the next firefighter I see at the grocery store stocking up on grub for his or her colleagues at the fire station that very thing.

About to declare war on misuse of word ‘hero’

I’ve just about had it up to here with those who keep using the “h-word” improperly.

I saw a tweet this afternoon about the death of pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes. It referred to him as a “blue-collar hero.”

Blue-collar hero? Yep. That’s what it said.

I’m on the verge of declaring war on the misuse of that word.

My war declaration, though, requires me to come up with an alternative word.

In the Dusty Rhodes case, what could we use to replace the term “hero” as it was used in that tweet? Blue-collar celebrity? Blue-collar icon? Blue-collar star?

The words “icon” and “star” perhaps overstate Rhodes’s status. But what the heck, this isn’t about Dusty Rhodes. It’s about the constant misuse of a term that should be used sparingly — and only to describe individuals deserving of the term.

A friend of mine noted that Caitlyn Jenner — the woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner — is being touted as a hero. I haven’t heard that term attached to Caitlyn Jenner, although it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Heroes are fighting men and women who put themselves in harm’s way in defense of the country; they are firefighters who rush into burning buildings to save people’s lives; they are police officers who risk their lives arresting violent criminals.

They aren’t athletes. Or entertainers. Or reality-TV celebrities.

Can we stop misusing that word? Please?

Another hero leaves this world

Edward Saylor was a hero. The real thing.

He was one of just four survivors of one of the most daring military acts of all time. He took part in the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April, 1942.

Lt. Col. Saylor was 94 when he died this week at his home in Sumner, Wash.


There just are three men left who served on that mission. It was bold, brash and fraught with peril.

The Japanese had attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor just four months earlier. President Roosevelt and the Pentagon brass were reeling as the Japanese were marching through Asia and the Pacific. They needed to do something — anything — to rattle the enemy. So they came up with a plan.

Why not load some U.S. Army Air Corps B-25 bombers aboard an aircraft carrier — the USS Hornet — strip them down to just the fuel and the bombs they need, teach the pilots how to launch a land-based bomber off a floating carrier deck and then have that squadron of planes drop its ordnance on targets in Japan? Lt. Col. James Doolittle would command the raid.

Edward Saylor served as a flight engineer-gunner aboard one of those planes.

He completed the mission at great risk, completed 28 more years in the Air Force before retiring and lived a long and happy life.

He received the Medal of Honor for his supreme bravery.

Sadly, he is just one more of a diminishing number of The Greatest Generation who went off to war to defeat tyranny. Of the 16 million or so men and women who served in World War II, fewer than 2 million are left. They are dying at a rapid rate daily.

Those of us who came up after them owe these men and women everything.

Rest in peace, Lt. Col. Saylor.

Thank you.


Heroes wear firefighter uniforms

Popular culture is fond of bandying about the word “hero.”

We ascribe that title to athletes and to movie stars who play heroic figures on the big screen.

One of our communities caught fire in recent days. Fritch, in Hutchinson County, has been battling wildfires. You want a definition of a real hero? Look to the people who plunge into the fire to battle it face to face.

We know all this, of course. We know about the heroism our firefighters exhibit all the time. The same can be said of police officers, who answer calls that should be “routine,” but too often prove to be anything but.

Today, let’s single out the firefighters for hero recognition.

I ran into one of them just yesterday. He was mowing a lawn two doors west of where my wife and I live. I walked over just to visit with him and to get a price on lawn mowing services. He said he’s been cutting grass part time for 22 years. His real job? He’s an Amarillo firefighter stationed at the River Road station just north of Thompson Park.

The fellow has had his hands full in recent days, battling the Fritch fire along with firefighters from other departments all across the northern Panhandle.

It’s good to understand, too, that those rural firefighters — the folks who work in our small farming and ranching communities — are volunteers who don’t get paid to suit up and plunge into the inferno.

The 9/11 tragedy nearly 13 years ago educated many Americans about the heroism our firefighters exhibit. Remember the stories of those individuals running upstairs into the Twin Towers to rescue those who were trapped?

Does that define a hero? You bet it does.

The fire season has arrived a bit early this year. Our firefighters are going have a busy time of it, particularly if the region remains as dry as it’s been.

They will put their lives on the line as they fight to protect people from the flames. They are heroes who should make us proud.

Godspeed, y’all.