Tag Archives: first responders

Honor the first responders

As the nation enters this weekend to commemorate an anniversary many of us would rather forget, I feel the need to implore us all to recall a specific element of that event we are remembering.

It’s known these days simply as “9/11.” It broke wide open in front of us 20 years ago. Terrorists hijacked four jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people died that day.

Many of them happened to be men and women who rushed into the inferno in New York. They were firefighters, police officers and medical personnel. They sought to save lives imperiled by the flames, particularly those that consumed the towers. They were the embodiment of untold courage. They taught us all the meaning of service to the community, to the country and to the world.

I want to remember these people. I want to honor them and to use these words to suggest that we owe them eternal gratitude for the service they perform every day.

These men and women take oaths to protect us and to serve us. On 9/11, not a single one of them went to work that morning believing they would run into the inferno ignited by madmen. Many of them died in that rush into harm’s way; many others lived to tell their own stories.

I also want to offer a word of tribute to the passengers who rose up to right the terrorists who hijacked the jetliner that ended up crashing into the field in Shanksville, Pa. All of them performed heroic acts that defy my level of understanding.

Many of our brave first responders suffered medical calamities as a result of what they endured. Still more of them have battled emotional trauma now known as PTSD.

We toss the term “hero” around far too loosely to suit my taste. I don’t use the word often in this forum or even when I speak about it. The folks who answered the call when the jets crashed into our lives on 9/11 all were heroes in the very finest sense of the word.

We must honor them always … and forever.


Heroes emerge in the rubble

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We’ve all been shocked and horrified at the images of the collapsed condominium tower in Surfside, Fla.

I want to take a moment to honor the heroes who have emerged  from the rubble as firefighters, police, military personnel and civilians search for survivors.

We keep hearing stories of men and women hearing voices from deep inside the wreckage of the building.

To be sure, with 159 people unaccounted for, I dread the prospect that awaits the loved ones waiting and hoping for miracles to present themselves.

President Biden has pledged the federal government’s full support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is delivering all he can as well to assist the stricken community. There apparently are many questions to answer, such as those dealing with known structural deficiencies in the condo. So help me I have never heard of an U.S.-built structure such as this one just collapse under its own weight.

However, the heroes have emerged and will continue to emerge as the search goes on for those who trapped under the mountain of rubble. I am going to offer a prayer, as well, for the suffering community.

Wild ride through ‘hood

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s just chalk this up to something one doesn’t see very every day.

My wife was tracking a high speed chase from Dallas, north along U.S. 75 toward McKinney. An idiot had stolen an ambulance and the cops were in hot pursuit. Then the moron turned east at McKinney down U.S. 380.

Where do you suppose he went? The dipsh** turned the stolen vehicle down our street … at a very high rate of speed. The sirens were blaring behind him.

Then came the cops. I counted about a dozen police vehicles. From McKinney, Texas Department of Public Safety, from Princeton PD, from the Collin County Sheriff’s Department, a couple of unmarked cruisers.

They roared west behind the moron, who had turned the ambulance south through some new home construction.

At this moment, I do not know the status of the chase.

This is when the cops earn their keep. Man, I hope they nab that lunatic. Oh, and if the ambulance missed a call that resulted in the death of a patient who needed medical attention, they need to throw — at minimum — a manslaughter charge at the loon.


This just in: The police caught the nimrod in McKinney. May they find the biggest book they can lift and toss it at him. Film at 6 and at 10 … 

A word of thanks is due

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A lot of us have been griping lately about the status of the power we use to heat our homes, shed light onto the dark and even light the flame in our fireplaces.

I saw the attached picture on my Facebook news feed this morning and I want to echo the thoughts that came with it.

We owe the men and women who have been toiling in frigid temperatures, in the snow, and the wind for the work they have done trying to keep our electricity flowing.

I am going to reserve my ill will for the folks in the boardrooms who make decisions about managing the electrical flow. A lot of them have messed up and North Texans — such as my wife, Toby the Puppy and me — have paid the price. We slept through two chilly nights in our Princeton home, owing mostly to the decisions to shut down power capacity while we were battling the effects of what has been called a “historic winter storm event.”

The folks who answer the call, though, are not to blame for what we have endured, any more than those — for example — who went to war in Vietnam and then returned home to frigid indifference from the American public.

I’ll take this moment to offer them a word of thanks, high praise and gratitude for exposing themselves to the elements so that we don’t have to suffer from Mother Nature’s wrath.

I’m proud of y’all.

Horror on the freeway

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We now live in an era that pays tribute to first responders.

With that, I want to offer a brief salute to the men and women who got a horrifying call Thursday morning: There was a multiple-vehicle pile-up on Interstate 35W in Fort Worth.

They found unimaginable carnage on the highway.

The last I have heard, six people died in the crash. Many more were injured. Some of the motorists suffer life-threatening injuries. News media reports told us chilling stories of responders arriving at the scene and then hearing the anguished cries coming from survivors of the wreckage.

They were screaming for help. They were crying out for their very lives. The videos we witnessed on the news are horrifying in the extreme. Semi trucks plowed into other vehicles; some cars were smashed to smithereens, unrecognizable as vehicles designed to carry human beings presumably safely to and from their homes.

Calls went out for medical, firefighters and police personnel to answer the call. One agency called for every person available.

I should point out that they answered the emergency calls in hideous weather conditions. The highway was covered in that dreaded “black ice.” Take my word for it, your vehicle has virtually no control over such a thing; I have been swept away on a black-ice roadway and it ain’t fun.

So, I want to offer not only a word of deep sympathy to those across the Metroplex who lost loved ones in the horrible event, but a salute to the first responders who reminded us once again why we should cherish the work these gallant folks do on our behalf … to protect and to serve us.

USAF to send B-1 bomber on a loud fly-by

The Navy has its Blue Angels acrobatic flying team; the Air Force has its Thunderbirds.

The Navy and the Air Force have been sending their teams to cities across the land to honor health care workers and other responders for their heroism during the coronavirus pandemic. The Blue Angels just this week flew over the Dallas-Fort Worth area … which my wife and I missed because we happened to be out of town on that day — dang it!

Now we hear of another salute from an iconic airplane. A B-1 bomber based out of Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene is going to fly over the Thomas Creek Veterans Administration Medical Center in Amarillo on Friday; then it will head south to fly over the Lubbock VA center before returning home to Dyess.

If you’ve never watched a B-1 bomber fly overhead, you need to understand that this airplane is real loud and I guarantee that if it’s flying low enough off the deck that it will set off car alarms and get dogs to barking for miles around.

Still, these tributes are so richly deserved and I am proud of the Air Force and the Navy for arranging these magnificent tributes to the men and women who work heroically every waking minute of every day to protect us from the killer viral infection.

Our heroes deserve all these tributes and so much more.

The B-1 will fly over the Creek VA Center at 11:21 a.m. on Friday and then visit the Lubbock center at 11:40. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges those who want to watch to practice “social distancing.” By all means.

And prepare for some serious noise. It’ll thrill you to no end. I promise.

The big takeaway from this crisis is …

Make no mistake about it, if there is a singularly positive outcome from the coronavirus pandemic, it well might be the enduring gratitude we all should feel toward those who are risking their lives in the front-line fight against this killer disease.

I refer specifically to the world’s medical personnel, the firefighters and police officers.

Doctors, nurses and various medical technicians are falling ill constantly, 24/7, as they treat patients in hospitals all over the world. Many of them die as a result. Many others are fortunate to recover from the disease. What do they do, how do they respond?

They suit up — don their masks, gloves and rubber suits — and head right back into the fight! That’s what they’re doing.

Communities are making noise already in appreciation for what they’re doing on our behalf. In New York City, the epicenter of the crisis, residents are clamoring each night at 7 to honor the men and women who are thrusting themselves into harm’s way; they stand on street corners, on balconies, in front of shuttered businesses and they bang pots and pans.

It’s the very least we can do to offer an expression of profound gratitude to these folks’ unimaginable bravery.

Let us not ever lose sight of what we are witnessing in real time as the world struggles against this pandemic.

It is awe-inspiring.

Dispatchers aren’t paid to scold those in distress

Donna Reneau likely will need to find another line of work. It is my strong belief, certainly, that she should.

An Arkansas woman drowned when floodwaters overwhelmed her motor vehicle. She dialed for help and got a Fort Smith, Ark., Police Department dispatcher on the phone. The dispatcher, Reneau, said the department was being overwhelmed with emergency calls during a terrible storm in the region and that the caller, Debra Stevens, would have to wait for assistance.

Stevens begged Reneau to help her. Reneau’s response was to tell the woman to “shut up” and to scold her for driving into too-high water.

Holy crap, man!

Stevens drowned in her car waiting for help to get to her.

As for the conversation that ensued between the stricken motorist and the dispatcher, it has been recorded for the nation to hear. Reneau is no longer on the Fort Smith PD force; she resigned to, I must presume, “pursue other interests.”

I don’t know whether the delay was a direct result of the dispatcher’s crude, rude and crass behavior. The point, though, is that emergency dispatchers are hired and trained to deliver assistance and to deliver comfort to those who call for help.

From what I have seen and heard of what Donna Reneau delivered to the late Debra Stevens, she failed to do her job.

I see some intensive re-training for all dispatchers in northwest Arkansas in the future.

Trump signs important bill … but lies about its context

I was glad to see Donald Trump sign an important piece of legislation into law this week, the bill that extends medical assistance to 9/11 first responders for the next several decades.

He did so in a White House ceremony under bright sunshine. Sitting before him were many of the firefighters, medical personnel and police officers who rushed into the infernos — in New York and Washington — on that terrible morning nearly 18 years ago.

But then …

Trump did something that has become almost a standard part of his performance as president of the United States. He sought to insert himself into an event in which he played no role. Perhaps you heard him during the bill-signing ceremony.

He talked about going to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, hobnobbing with the first responders. He said he was “there,” but refrained from calling himself a “first responder.”

In truth, Donald Trump was not there. Reports surfaced immediately after the ceremony from New York fire officials who disputed Trump’s assertion that he was present in the rubble where the Twin Towers once stood. He was nowhere in sight, they said.

Trump did call a New York media outlet to tell reporters that Trump Tower was the tallest building in the city once the World Trade Center collapsed from the damage caused by the hijacked jetliners crashing into the towers.

This is the kind of behavior that is utterly reprehensible, so blatantly phony that it defies my ability to comprehend how this man gets away with it … time and again! I mean, for crying out loud, he didn’t even lift a finger to win congressional approval of the bill he signed into law.

He once claimed falsely that he watched “thousands and thousands of people cheer” while the Twin Towers burned and fell on 9/11. He said he lost “many friends” in the towers. Now he says he was present at Ground Zero while police, firefighters and medical officials did their grim job. He lied every single time.

This man cannot cease making himself part of whatever story is being told, no matter how tragic. A president needs to exhibit compassion, empathy and authentic humanity in these times. Donald Trump is utterly, categorically incapable of demonstrating any of those traits.

The president showed us yet again his absolute unfitness for the job.

Sen. Paul approves big tax cut, but blocks 9/11 relief bill

Let me see how this works.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was among the Republicans who voted for Donald Trump’s big tax cut in 2018, the one that helped a lot of rich folks and, oh yes, helped run up the national debt to its current level of $22 trillion.

Then the senator this week has blocked a bill to reinstate a relief bill aimed at helping 9/11 first responders battle ailments caused by the terrible terrorist attack on this country. Paul’s rationale is, shall we say, ironic to the point of hypocrisy.

He said the country’s debt is too steep. We need to find spending cuts to pay for the relief package, he said.

Hold on! But … Sen. Paul, your vote on the tax cut helped roll up that national debt! The debt has skyrocketed because you and your Senate colleagues along with the president wanted to slash taxes for wealthy Americans.

I should point out, too, that the 9/11 relief initiative got national attention because of the fiery and emotional testimony delivered by comic Jon Stewart (pictured with this post), sitting alongside first responders suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

This is disgusting in the extreme, Sen. Paul.