2020: Year of the First Responder

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am pretty sure we all agree on this point: 2020 sucks out loud.

This calendar year has been one of the most eventful, consequential — and miserable — years many of us can remember. Our grandparents no doubt recall the Great Depression and then World War II. Then we had 1968, which brought the Vietnam War to a head and those terrible political assassinations.

But this year stands alone. The pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of human beings. Now we have the fires that are sweeping through the three Pacific Coast states.

All of this is my way of saying that 2020 surely must be deemed The Year of the First Responder.

Heroes walk among us. They are the nurses and doctors who are tending to coronavirus patients. These nurses and doctors also are doubling as surrogate loved ones for patients who die alone; they cannot have their actual loved ones near them because of the highly infectious nature of the coronavirus, leaving the handholding to the medical pros who put their own lives on the line just tending to their patients.

Now comes the fires. The firefighters and police officers are plunging into the Hell on Earth in California, Oregon and Washington. They are running toward the flames. They are flying aircraft into the choking smoke. They are hugging victims of the fire, trying as best they can to lend comfort in a time of unspeakable tragedy.

Oh, we also have that presidential election coming up. Who’ll win it? Well, whether it’s Joe Biden or Donald Trump, the editors at Time magazine need not worry about naming one of them the magazine’s Person of the Year. They are playing second fiddle to the heroes in our hospitals, in our school classrooms, in our forests and our neighborhoods.

We all want the circumstances that are making this the most memorable year to end. I happen to stand in awe of those who are answering the call to help their fellow men and women in distress.

Stand tall, heroes.