Hurricane Ian has become the latest natural enemy No. 1 to visit the United States of America.
The storm slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast, bringing storm surges that exceeded 12 feet. The death count from the monster storm has yet to be ascertained, but I did hear that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has predicted it could go into “the hundreds.”
Oh, my. We are left where the weather has been gorgeous to pray for the first responders who do what they do, which is they run toward the danger. Firefighters, police officers, medical EMTs all have answered the call, which they promise to do when they pin the badges to their shirts.
Texans who are no strangers to natural calamity have rushed to aid. Oncor, the electric utility, has deployed 500 technicians to help restore power to millions of Floridians. The Cajun navy, comprising residents and their boats headed toward the storm. Texas Baptist Men, long involved in assisting where emergencies arise, again are on the job.
President Biden has declared Florida to be major disaster area, which means the federal government will expedite aid as officials on site ascertain their needs.
That’s what residents of the United States of America do. They rush to the aid of others.
Meanwhile, the rest of the nation can offer plenty of prayer and good karma.
Forgive me if I seem as though I am repeating myself, but I feel this overwhelming need to offer a word of thanks to men and women who answer the call to protect my family and me.
What brings this about? Well, my wife and I took our granddaughter to a petting zoo here in Princeton, Texas, the other day. We were standing in line waiting to look at some exotic critters housed in an indoor area. A young man with his wife and baby daughter was standing next to me; he extended his hand and, after looking at my Vietnam War veteran gimme cap, offered a word of “thanks for your service.”
I accepted the thanks and asked him what he did for a living. “I am with the fire service. In Plano,” he said. “Oh, so you’re a firefighter?” I responded. He nodded. With that I extended my hand and thanked him for his service to the community and to the country.
We must thank these individuals whenever we can. My service, as limited as it was in the old days, is over. The military personnel who are serving us now carry on that tradition of service. The young Americans who suit up to fight fires, or to patrol our streets and highways in police cruisers, or work on ambulance crews, or tend to the sick and injured in hospitals, or care for older Americans in assisted living centers … they’re the heroes who need to know the rest of us appreciate what they do.
Our hearts should break whenever we hear of a police officer shot or hurt in some fashion by someone who is breaking the law. So should we mourn the loss of firefighters who rush toward burning buildings.
The brief encounter at the critter exhibit in our city was welcome. I always appreciate the good word from those who recognize that I am an old man who once served in the military. As I told the young man the other day, the nation has grown up and matured since the time we were coming back into civilian life during the Vietnam War … and I am thrilled to see that we have gotten past the bitterness of that terrible era.
Those days are long gone. Today’s heroes are the men and women who suit up to protect our nation against those who would do us harm as well as those who answer the call when we’re in trouble.
This is the second consecutive Thanksgiving we are celebrating under the threat of a killer virus.
I am going to offer a brief — but most assuredly heartfelt — word of thanks and gratitude for those who answer the call when people are stricken.
I live next door to a neo-natal nurse who I am certain has seen her share of heartache. A law enforcement officer shares her home with her and he, too, is called upon to respond to those who need help.
They have earned our gratitude and our thanks.
I hear about parades taking place today around the country that are dedicated to saluting first responders. They enforce the law, respond to fires, they work in ambulances and assorted rescue vehicles. They are neighbors who lend a hand for those nearby who, for whatever reason, are under stress and duress.
They rush to people’s sides. They hold their hands. They tend to their needs. They do so out of dedication to the careers they have worked hard to pursue; that dedication carries a serious implication, which is that they must tend to others’ needs.
In the spirit of the holiday, I want to be among the millions of Americans who thank these individuals for the work they do selflessly and with dedication to caring for our well-being.
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.
By John Kanelis / firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
By JOHN KANELIS / email@example.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 …
By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
By JOHN KANELIS / email@example.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.
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.
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.