Heroes in New York,
and in our hometowns
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 3:48 AM
I ended the day on Wednesday, Sept. 11, the same way I started 9/11 in 2012 - with a run on the Root River Trail.
In 2012, I started the day off by running the trail from Preston toward Harmony with Mike Ehredt, a veteran who was running the equivalent of a marathon a day across the United States from International Falls, Minn., to Galveston, Texas, planting a flag every mile - 2,100 of them in all - in honor of each veteran killed in Afghanistan.
Last Wednesday, I covered a flag-raising ceremony in Rushford that not only included veterans of the Rushford American Legion, but also the ambulance service, fire department and police department. A huge flag was raised on the top of an elevator at Farmers Co-op Elevator Company. Following the event, I took a run down the trail before sunset.
For me, a run helps my brain process information and sort out things in my mind.
On the way to Rushford this 9/11, my mind was more on the inconvenience, since this was a long drive after normal work hours, at least what most people would consider usual hours and what I sometimes wish were my normal work hours. Since no one else from our staff was able to do it, I was left to pick up the pieces.
Despite my brief feeling of frustration, I kept on going because I felt it was important to cover this community event. That's what I do. I wouldn't call it a sacrifice because it is part of my profession, after all.
When I got there, I saw the many police, firefighters and ambulance personnel that had taken time from their schedule to be there for the ceremony. I couldn't feel too sorry for myself after seeing them, since some of them are solely volunteers in which every call to action is an inconvenience to their daily routine for incidents that they wish would never happen, not so they wouldn't have to go, but because they involve their neighbors in bad situations.
We'll never forget 9/11, just as we have never forgotten Pearl Harbor, but the terrorist attack on New York isn't the same as the bombing by the Japanese. The meaning of 9/11 isn't quite as clear since the enemy wasn't a country at war and the target wasn't a military installation.
Some will say it was an act of pure evil and it's hard to dispute that. However, the American people responded with acts of goodness.
Emergency responders - fire, ambulance and police - responded to the horrific scene without hesitation. While others ran away, they ran to the chaos that resulted from the mass destruction.
In preparing to do our salute to emergency responders last week, called Hometown Heroes, one of the ambulance directors we contacted said she was no hero.
We disagree. We will never have anything like the attacks on 9/11 in our little piece of the world, but we have emergency situations all the time. They may involve carnage on the highways, burning buildings or crime scenes that most of us are more comfortable viewing from a distance after the mess is cleaned up. The people involved in these unfortunate situations depend on - often for their lives - that someone jump right into the chaos without hesitation.
Our local responders are trained, prepared and fearless to run into, rather than away from, any emergency that may develop in our area. Those are actions that can be described as heroic.
In our eyes, these people truly are hometown heroes. It shouldn't take another 9/11 on the calendar to remind us, but ceremony can make us think and once the information from that day is processed, we can feel a deeper appreciation for the great sacrifice our neighbors give when they, without hesitation, take the calls that no one else wants.