The Heroes Among Us

But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.

Martin Luther King

Once in a Lifetime…

Hope is an interesting thing. It can be the thing that eludes us, or the thing that brings us to the better parts of our being. 

I think we know which route it’s on this time.

A ‘once in a lifetime’ horror entered our stratosphere and was met with acts of ‘once in a lifetime’ heroism. A deadly pandemic vs. a determined world. 

It has never been and should never become a “man vs man” war. 

Bringing something good out of something bad is the very definition of transformative hope. 

And isn’t hope the stuff that heroes are made of?

So far the coronavirus pandemic has been a calculatingly cruel teacher. It has run us ragged cramming for the final exam. What we know changes daily as we race toward an indecipherable finish line. And that finish line is still such an unknown that it is drawn oh, so lightly with a pencil.

We need hope like we need air to breathe! 

And we need heroes like we need solid ground to walk on again! 

One thing this experience has taught me is that shining acts of bravery know no age or job title. Bravery is the equalizer of our times right now!  And while the virus knows no borders, neither do the heroes among us. 

They are rising up in not just the obvious corners, but also in the quieter places of our lives.

There are so many I am going to put them in three functional categories. 

The Ultra Visible Heroes!

They are the national and state leaders we see on television and the internet. 

I wrote a little about our national treasure, Dr. Anthony Fauci, 2 weeks ago and also Ohio’s famous 3 Ultra Visible Heroes.  

Governor Mike DeWine; Dr. Amy Acton, Director of Ohio Public Health, and Lieutenant Governor, John Husted show up on our televisions at 2:00 pm Monday through Saturday and sometimes Sunday. 

These three continue to lead, teach, calm, and inspire us.  

It’s become a ritual for me now.  If it’s 2:00, I’m sitting in my chair, a glass of water, or wine near by, spiral notebook in hand, ready for Governor DeWine to walk to the podium, look straight at the camera, smile at me…well, smile at ALL of us, and turn the pages of his handwritten notes on today’s important facts.  

T-shirts have been made with the words: “Wine with DeWine!  It’s 2:00 somewhere!”   One of those t-shirts arrived on my doorstep just moments ago! Thank you, Cathy Dybdahl!

Mike, John & Amy are my new trusted advisors. They represent the pandemic fight to me! I’m grateful for our own Ultra Visible Heroes and I’m proud to know them.

The Frontliners!

Meanwhile all over America and the globe, there are people willingly putting themselves directly in harm’s way…’right in the eye of the tiger’.

We call them our Frontliners, our Essential Workers. 

They are out there doing the hard things, the heartbreaking things, the critical things. 

This list is lengthy, but it bares repeating. 

It includes doctors, nurses, medical technicians, nursing home employees, pharmacists, fire fighters, EMTS, paramedics, police forces, our national guard, and so many more. 

Badges of Honor!

Some are recognizable in their proverbial white coats, or green hospital garb, or their bright red or blue uniforms; their stethoscopes around their necks and their long lanyards full of official badges…badges of honor!

What they see, what they sacrifice, what they face day in and day out, is more than most of us would be able to manage.

Their stories will always reflect selflessness. They move with an aura of courage.

Their purpose is clear. They are risking their lives every day so that others can live.

Some Frontliners don’t wear uniforms. They are heroes in plain clothes and in plain sight.   

The supply chain workers and the critical jobs of ‘every day life’ are in this category. Those who work in assisted & independent living facilities for our elderly work directly in the line of fire.

From company owners to workers we owe our grateful thanks. This list includes: groceries, the construction industry, the restaurant industry, transportation companies and their beloved truckers, refuse companies and the faithful drivers, the United States Mail workers, electricians, plumbers and so many more create, provide and transport our every single, living need. 

We could not function without them!  “Neither snow, nor rain, nor pandemic viruses” will get in the way of their production and delivery. They risk their lives as well because they are our “on the move” heroes, operating where the virus multiplies. 

They do this with smiles on their faces, patience, and a dedication that is unbelievable. Many work with no protective gloves, no masks and yet go to work every day without fail.

Such is the diversity that makes up our Frontliners! I am humbled by their courage; awed by their proficiency; and brought to tears by their overwhelming selflessness.

The Hidden Heroes!

And then, there are the folks who have been asked to Stay at Home; Work from Home, hidden to us, but no less critical to our united effort at fighting this invisible war.  I think of this group as the Hidden Heroes

They may also be trying to balance the daunting tasks of being parent, chief cook, house keeper, sanitation manager, and home arbiter of peace, all while working their regular 8-12 hour jobs. 

These business and professional heroes are working to keep our economy alive to the best of their ability in the most difficult and challenging of times. 

Finding ways to keep small businesses up and running is key to the survival of our economy.  Keeping in touch with your client base, helping them in creative ways, assures them of their own future in the market. Assurance equals confidence and confidence moves us to hope and ultimate recovery. Helping people look at their work force differently and manage efficiently gives a shot of relief to harried business managers. Keeping businesses healthy ultimately saves jobs.

And all over our country, teachers are using every tool they have in their education backgrounds to teach our children through computers.

It takes dynamic heroes to keep entire classrooms of children and young adults interested and challenged, while lacking the needed supplies. In spite of so many obstacles to overcome, they are in front of their computers every day, coaxing our children, challenging our young adults to reach their goals. They are working hard in difficult situations and cramped spaces with no real control over the environment. And they are doing it well! 

A forgotten and unsung group of heroes are those who are keeping our families intact body and soul, our children soothed, while this invisible war is being fought on the front lines.

Creativity abounds in this group. Inventive ways to keep minds growing, learning and thinking are popping up all over social media. These are times that truly “try men’s souls” and the family is the first line of defense for that. Guidance, discipline, love and care…the watchwords of parenting & grand-parenting are being highlighted in a way that hasn’t happened in a long while. Quality time now meets quantity time and we may see benefits to that long term. Grandparents are being called into full time childcare while their own children work 8 and 12 hour schedules, 6-7 days a week. 

Just as the saying is true that “Not all heroes wear capes”, it is also true that “Not all heroes save lives…some save souls”. 

This category includes pastors, rabbis, priests, worship teams, and all who serve in the church. Where would be we without their counsel, their wisdom, and their willingness to provide services online for us in so many creative and meaningful ways.

Things look different now!

America is cooking more and baking again. Yeast became the new “toilet paper” in week two. We are reading to our children more, walking our dogs more; looking directly at our neighbors from a 6 ft distance.  It seems as if we know instinctively we are all in the same boat and it’s simply easier when we are paddling in the same direction. 

While we are using technology to its absolute extreme, we are also unplugging for the sake of sanity and our own best interests. We see family taking care of family; friends taking care of friends, all while operating under dire thoughts of what might be. This attitude of hope & love in action will keep us going!

Our volunteers are constantly busy creatively solving problems. Some of our hidden heroes are sewing viable masks for everyone and some are designing new ways to fight the war behind the scenes. Some are inventing equipment needed for our front liners or for the critical testing that all of us need. Their efforts will help to expedite the end of this pandemic.

Longing for tomorrow…

And then there is the future that we look longingly toward and all the ways our lives will change because of what we have learned and how we have been challenged to do and think differently about things.  

Biostatistics professionals, including my own son, will be working with an eye to the future…a ’life after the pandemic’ scenario, on various ways health care delivery will change, as well as the many effects on other non-medical issues. 

Great innovations are built out of great need. 

I am thankful for all who make a difference no matter where they are in our world or what their part is. 

They are our force for Good!  

For all of us!

Understandably, we are hoping for the time when we will finally be out of the path of this pandemic!

But for now, give these questions some thought: What is deep hardship but that we can learn who we are from it; what is extreme challenge but that we can rise up from it: what is separation but that we can rejoice in the joining together once again?

This is the moment in time that we write our legacy.

What we do now is our gift to generations ahead. I don’t want to just sit and wait. I want to act while I’m waiting. Our legacy is in our own hands. The choices we make today, not only define our tomorrows, but establish our lasting legacy.

What does the hero in you look like today? What might it look like tomorrow?

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘It will be happier’.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

A second notebook sits on my countertop alongside my mask, gloves, and sanitizing supplies, necessities now. It is my newest prayer list, comprised of names & jobs, places & situations. These names are some of the heroes I know.

They are friends, family, sons and daughters of friends and family. They are neighbors, present and past. Each name has a story. Each name is a hero in my book. You can see their photos at the end of this post.

This piece is dedicated to all our heroes, yours and mine…named and unnamed! It was written for all the heroes among us, who make a difference each and every day. 

The Faces of Heroes

As you look through these faces, pause and say a prayer for their safety and their future. We’re counting on them! 

Gallery of Heroes!

NOTE: The following photos are in 3 different sizes. Despite trying very hard, uniformity of size has eluded me. I’m hoping for some assistance in fixing this soon. Until then, please know the size of your photo has nothing to do with anything. Enjoy these beautiful heroes!

Josh Heath, Lieutenant, Georgia Public Safety Training Center
Elaine Zajac
Maker of Masks

Send me photos of the heroes you know about. I’ll keep adding to this gallery as long as we are #InThisTogether.

4 thoughts on “The Heroes Among Us”

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